Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland and Josh Brolin
Running Time: 2hrs 29mins
Arriving on a juggernaut of hype and pre-ordained success the likes of which has never been seen. This is, without hyperbole, the biggest film of all time. 10 years, 19 films, $14 billion in box office, a cast of over 30 main characters. A movie that lives outside any measurable metric for success. It is literally too big to fail. With all this on its shoulders, the film itself couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, could it?
Honestly, it comes damn close. The film starts at a sprint and doesn’t let up until it stumbles at the finish line. Until then, the movie has been an unmitigated triumph. It is the film that most resembles a comic book. There are dream team-ups, glorious set pieces and jaw-dropping cameos that have thankfully remained hidden. Many have scoffed at the Russo brothers campaign to keep spoilers hidden (#ThanosDemandsYourSilence) but when the moments of genuine surprise occur. It’s hard not to be grateful for their noble efforts.
They have managed what seemed impossible. Craft a story around a cast that has all demanded their own movies and arcs, without feeling like any character is short-changed at the expense of the narrative. Adopting the Star Wars method of splitting the main cast up and giving them their own quest, ensures the screen doesn’t feel cluttered with heroes jostling for screen time.
There are some wonderful dynamics explored (Rocket and Thor, Stark and Strange) that feel ripped from the pages of the finest comics. Marvel has long been saddled with the problem of bland villains (Loki and Killmonger aside) 6 years and few shading adjustments since his first appearance. Thanos finally gets up off his big, purple arse and enters the action. There are few actors with the requisite toughness to make you think that every hero combined couldn’t easily dispose of the threat. Josh Brolin is the one name that would make you think “Oh the Avengers are screwed”. His Thanos is like an intergalactic Richard the 3rd, monologuing his way his way throughout the cosmos while justifying his plans of genocide as a means to spare others his pain.
What stops this film from pure popcorn perfection is being hamstrung by the wider Marvel universe. In 19 movies they have created a world without consequence. Arguably they haven’t shifted the sands since Tony Stark announced to the world he was Iron Man. Even a 3rd string character like Agent Coulson was reanimated and given his own series. Here the attempted shock ending is robbed of any impact, as the film has previously ground to halt not once, but twice to explain how this will be retro-engineered.
That aside. It is hard to think of a big budget event film that has delivered on this scale. It rewards fans of the series with cracking one-liners and all-out action while avoiding the need to “go dark”. It does everything right that Justice League did wrong. Against the odds, the Russo brothers have delivered a film that stands on its own without required caveats. Avengers: Infinity War is a non-stop thrill ride with humour, spectacle and excitement beyond compare.
4 out of 5