Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

CApStarring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlet Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Steve Rogers becomes increasingly disillusioned with SHIELD, but an attack on Nick Fury throws his whole world into chaos – and that’s before the Winter Soldier joins the fray…

Although there’s a pretty good recap of events of the first film in the series (neatly done as a presentation at the Smithsonian about Cap’s career) it’s probably no bad thing to rewatch the 2011 movie before seeing this – this very much picks things up from the end of that adventure, continuing threads started there. As for The Avengers, all you need to know is that there was an attack on New York which provoked panic among some…

The Russo brothers bring a frenetic energy to the fight sequences: one criticism of the first film was that the bad guys lined up to be disposed of by Cap – here they all pile in (the scene in the elevator, which has featured in the trailer, is a classic example), and where it does become one-on-one, Cap’s sense of honour sometimes overrides his common sense, to the extent that he’ll not use one of his key weapons. The 3D is used more for depth of image than things coming out of the screen at you (there’s a few exceptions to that of course), and is less obtrusive than in many films.

Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers spends most of the film working with others, whether it’s Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, or Anthony Mackie’s Falcon (a really smart addition to the line-up, who I hope we’ll see more of across the Marvel Universe films), and he’s certainly got his work cut out. Robert Redford might as well be wearing a black hat and twiddling his moustaches in his first scene as Alexander Pierce, so obviously is he set up as the bad guy, but in a story that at its heart is about the corrupting nature of power, he brings some gravitas. Those who don’t know the identity of the Winter Soldier going in (and even as someone who stopped reading Marvel regularly some years ago, I had heard about this) may be surprised by the revelation, and although sometimes ironically his involvement feels like one aspect too many, it’s key to the parallel plotlines. One of the few Marvel miniseries I have kept over the years was the 1988 Nick Fury vs SHIELD, which has also been mined for some of its elements.

Of all the post-Avengers movies, this is the one that really moves things on in the Marvel movie universe (and the traditional during-credits scene suggests some other developments on the way), which certainly leads me to wonder how its ramifications are going to affect the one ongoing aspect of the franchise – Agents of SHIELD could become very interesting towards the end of its debut season…

Verdict: A great balance of action, comedy, political thriller, Easter eggs for the fans, and comic book sensibilities – another success for the Marvel crew. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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