Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannsson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson
Plot: Captain America (Evans), is struggling to get used to S.H.I.E.L.D’s way of doing things, while a dark force manipulates events to their liking from behind the scenes.
Captain America has never been one of my favourite heroes. The only reason I watched the first one was to prepare myself for Avengers Assemble. I felt the enjoyment of that film was held back by my lack of empathy for the character. Even Thor: The Dark World couldn’t help but mock his stubborn patriotism and star-spangled imagery. This made the fact that I liked, no loved, The Winter Soldier all the more surprising.
The Winter Soldier’s biggest weapon is the fact that it rarely felt like a superhero movie. Sure the other entries boasted similar qualities, yet I felt that the mythical story of Thor still couldn’t escape the fact that it was about a superhuman in a cape. However, Captain America rarely feels like a product of Marvel comics. He doesn’t fly, nor are his powers overtly showy. I really got a sense that he is an exaggerated version of Jason Bourne or 007. This really came alive with the fight sequences. The choreography was nothing less than mesmerizingly beautiful. While superhero movies suffer from stylised action, here I felt every punch, kick and parry. Best of all were the astonishingly amazing fights between Captain America and the Winter Soldier. They were incredible to watch, your heart in your mouth throughout the entire action scene. It was done with lightning speed, yet it never became too much to focus on. This is some of the best action Marvel have come out with yet. Even when Captain America and his nemesis Winter Soldier clashed, their battles felt grounded in reality. Several deaths resulted in me, gasping as if I had been the one who had just been tackled off of a ferry.
The story was also surprisingly shocking for Marvel. Seeing as producer, Kevin Feige, has his eyes constantly set to the future with these Marvel movies, we always enter each one expecting ‘just another Marvel movie’. For instance, Thor: The Dark World looked epic, but didn’t really do anything mind-blowingly surprising. Here, the Winter Soldier’s plot changes everything we thought we knew about Marvel. An early twist throws all the rules out of the window. In a heartbeat, Marvel is no longer predictable or routine. This improves everything about the viewing. In the back of our minds, we realise it is suddenly feasible that the writers might be killing off an important character. The fight scenes I complimented earlier go from great to even better. Their first punch-up between Captain America and the Winter Soldier should have been fun, yet hollow. Instead, I was actually convinced that the Winter Soldier could be killing off Black Widow. That is something I have never experienced in a Marvel movie and it separated this Marvel from the pack. I just hope that they haven’t used all of their good tricks up in this one movie. It might be harder to pull the wool over our eyes the next time around.
The acting is mostly perfect. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson have these roles nailed down now. Evans, while one of the most straight-faced and plain heroes in the universe, has a bit more fun this time. It helps that the script is light-hearted enough to help Steve Rogers feel a bit more sparky than he could have been, but also there are some meaty political themes that Evans can get his teeth into. Then there is Johansson and Jackson who are at their best yet. Johansson could be charged with stealing the show, easily becoming one of the more exciting Avengers on the roster. Samuel L. Jackson gets to do much more than stand around, barking orders and he gets an early action sequence, where we are glued to the screens intently. In fact, the one area where the acting slipped was with the Winter Soldier. This is not the actor’s fault, as the story kind of lets the character down. He is mainly a silent, bad-ass fighter, but there are a few scenes where we look behind the mask and there was a slight lack of personality there. The villain needed a quirk, something to make him memorable. However, when everything else hit the mark, that feels like pedantic nit-picking.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier feels like nothing Marvel have come out with before and that makes it a must-see piece of cinema. After a slow start to the year, The Winter Soldier reminds the audience about the real charm about the summer blockbuster season. Your move, Amazing Spiderman!
Final Verdict: Shocking, action-packed and never losing the sense of fun that makes Marvel products such good blockbusters, the Winter Soldier won’t be disappointing many.