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Blockbuster vs. Indie Showdown: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' vs. 'Locke'

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In an absurd effort to compare apples and oranges, I present a series of film reviews where two films that have nothing to do with each go head-to-head for a showdown. Bigger is not always better, but then again, sometimes it is.

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Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

I'm falling asleep just looking at a picture of this fight scene.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a seasoned super hero. He's even getting a little world-weary from saving the world, but hey, still no time to date. Or is he just shy? No worries, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is there to spar about girls and to act as trustworthy sidekick. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) berates and throws tricky twists at his two champions and Robert Redford, as Alexander Pierce, is so banal playing evil incarnate that I found myself wishing he'd go back to no-dialog performances and battling hurricanes (All is Lost). The story is simple: ex-Nazis infiltrating our organizations once again attempt to destroy the world or turn it into some kind of nondemocratic perfection. What we mostly get is one slick CGI battle scene after another, making it feel as though I was watching the four-hour showdown between Superman and General Zod at the end of Man of Steel all over again. Even my passion for IMAX couldn't bar boredom.

Go or No? No

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Courtesy A24

No, really, I swear staring at this guy in a car for 90 minutes is thrilling.

Locke

The idea of a 90-minute film, where the only visual character drives a car for the entire length of the movie, could easily make you hope that something, anything, would blow up before the end credits. That idea would be terribly wrong because what ensues is an emotional and tension-driven existential drama. Ivan Locke, played brilliantly by Tom Hardy, is a man who tries to right a wrong on his car's speakerphone while driving 90 miles per hour on a busy freeway in the middle of the night.

Each person he speaks with on the phone freaks out as he reveals his own personal misstep one night seven months ago, a night that changes the lives of everyone he is involved with. Locke fights his past as he repeats the errors of his father and then makes the decision that doing the right thing is worth losing everything he loves. Symbolism abounds as Locke's son suggests they watch the evening's already televised soccer game together, pretending they do not know the outcome. Poetic moments are expressed in deceivingly simple lines as Locke describes the impact of an enormous building's weight on its concrete foundation or how they steal a "piece of sky" by erecting a skyscraper. Hardy's Locke goes through anger, tears and a cold as he calmly tries to fix the problems he has created, while his hands are on the steering wheel. The film never hints at it's own ending and tension builds as you realize that the outcome could be death or purgatory, but as Locke says calmly at one point in the film, "It's just me and my car going nowhere."

Go or No? Go!

Two movies about men who want to be heroes within the world they inhabit. One a cartoon figure holdover from the 50s, the other, real-life flesh and blood.

Winner: Locke

There isn't another film out now that manages to bring so many elements together without the traditional clichés and fortunately, you can't take your eyes off of Tom Hardy's performance as the man who has to stay in the eye of the storm while the havoc he created wreaks destruction in the lives around him.