Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan. Length 149 minutes.
The Earth is under attack by Thanos the Titan, who wants to collect all the Infinity Gems so that he can wipe out half of the population of the entire universe. To fight him, from the lands of Wakanda to the edges of space, the “old” Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and some new faces join forces. But it looks like it’s not going to be a fair fight…
More ambitious of the first Avengers (which still in its time looked the pinnacle in the construction of a grandiose super-hero universe spread over many years), Infinity War is more than a super-hero encyclopedia; it’s an apocalyptic adventure. As Dr Strange solemnly summarises the situation, “it's not overselling to say that the fate of the universe is at stake.”
This latest effort from the Russo brothers (who already proved themselves capable with the clash among superior beings in Captain America: Civil War) pulls off the impressive feat of not crumbling under the weight of its own premises, even if it experiences a bit of fatigue especially in the first part, where the authors show their cards and “teams” in the most disparate points of the universe, with the viewer struggling to remember the loose threads of the various heroes.
Without venturing too far into the plot (the risk of spoilers – given expectations of outstanding deaths – is very high), it must be said that the movie boasts a first-rate villain pursuing a rational and horrific plan of population control (along with a personal agenda). It recalls the Soviet five-year plans and the Chinese one-child policy and the radical environmentalism of Tim Flannery & Co). Thanos is a definite improvement over the annoying Ultron to say nothing of many other comic book movie villains.
That being said, even without offering the characters any miraculous psychological developments (poor Bruce Banner, traumatized by his first encounter with Thanos and consequently unable to summon back the Hulk is both funny and dramatic), the movie moves them around with admirable consistency with regard to their underlying principles.
The wise Doctor Strange is the only one able – by means of his powers but also his moral strength – to face the battle fully aware of its possible outcome (it’s no coincidence that he possesses the time gem). The wise-cracking Tony Stark has felt the full weight of the world on his shoulders for a while now, and is afraid to make any promise to the woman he loves. Steve Rogers is a pure hero, unwilling to sacrifice even a single life for the sake of the salvation of all the others (the perfect counterpart to Thanos).
And then there are Thor, who has rediscovered his warrior spirit driven by the thirst for revenge and justice and Peter Quill, torn between the usual buffoonery and a higher duty. Everyone will face hard choices and sacrifices. The finale is bold, to say the least, but must obviously be seen through the reassuring perspective of a second instalment.
Even if there’s the risk of getting lost in the superhero count, and sometimes the obligatory joke spoils the scope of the most dramatic and even tragic moments, the last Avengers keeps its promise of spectacular entertainment, without insulting the viewer's intellect and managing – a feat not that obvious in a now almost “formulaic” story – to deliver surprises.
Laura Cotta Ramosino is a story editor for Rai Uno, the national Italian broadcaster. Luisa Cotta Ramosino is an Italian television writer and creative producer; she is also a regular contributor to the website Sentieri del cinema and Scegliere un film, an annual collection of film reviews.