Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review 
Posted by Terry Lewis on 04.04.2014
With SHIELD in complete disarray whilst trying to adapt to the modern day, Chris Evans puts on the stars & stripes as Cap again in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But does this jammed packed action spectacular lay down a high standard for the summer blockbuster season? Or is it nearly a SHIELD featuring Captain America film with too many characters to focus on? 411's Terry Lewis finds out.
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers / Captain America Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow Sebastian Stan - The Winter Soldier Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson / Falcon Emily VanCamp - Sharon Carter / Agent 13 Robert Redford - Alexander Pierce Frank Grillo - Brock Rumlow Cobie Smulders - Maria Hill Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe gearing up for Avengers 2 next year, it's the turn once again for Mr. Stars and Stripes himself Captain America to have another go at conquering the big screen after a lukewarm first outing. This time around he's supported by an avalanche of avenging team mates fighting for both screen time and presence in the opening mega blockbuster of the summer.
After a fishy operation which raises suspicion in the running of SHIELD, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans, The Iceman) is at odds with director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, Robocop) and fellow Avenger Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, Under The Skin) until a terrorist attack puts the security and law enforcement agency in jeopardy. Wanting to authorise a plan to take over SHIELD's enemies is Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford, All Is Lost), but a super spy named The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan, The Apparition) is determined to make sure SHIELD falters. Not knowing who to trust, Rogers put his faith into an Army veteran councillor, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, Runner, Runner).
Another expanded cast usually means people get lost in the shuffle but at least EVERYONE gets a moment or two to shine in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Evans is in phenomenal shape again as Rogers and is a mastodon of a man. A man in good as beefcake shape as him makes the American hero even more awesome as he despatches goons left and right. He even gets to show a small bit of an acting range as he reflects on his current status as the man out of time. Johansson gets to show off more of the slipperyness of the Widow's comic book nature through double crosses and spy moves. Redford adds a sprinkling of weight to the reputation and film events through his appearance and is pretty awesome back in the spy-esque nature of roles he build his career on.
Mackie is sweet in the introduction to Falcon - there's no hour long origin here. He's simply an ex-soldier in an Army flight suit that shoots the hell out of people; nice and easy, lemon squeezey. He goes one-on-one with the Widow for the best humour and one liners yet he does feel very sidekick-y. Don't expect Falconmania to go running wild and for a spin off movie. The best to me though is the treatment of Nick Fury. A man on the sidelines and in the shadows pulling people together, he finally gets to take part in a very kick ass vehicle raid and chase scene, which is probably the best I've seen in years. Jackson doesn't usually get to do much with Fury acting wise but here he we see how far this man has been and will do to protect the world from those who threaten it. To be honest, there's simply too many to note here but no one at all disappoints in a close to perfection cast. Hell, we even get UFC'sGeorges St-Pierre as a kickass, super serious version of Batroc the bloody Leaper.
Unlike what seems like the majority of people, I rate Cap as a character. In the first film, I don't think he was played to his strengths as a man out of time who has a simpler view in this complex world as he was stuck being introduced for The Avengers. Away from all that we can delve into exploring Steve Rogers in the 21st century. He carries a notepad and pen with several pop culture thing he's yet to experience, still with a wide smiled optimism whilst all those he knew and fought with in World War 2 are dead or on the verge of. He spends more of his time at his own history exhibit reflecting on his past and how simpler things were. He's not cut out for the current spy game of double crossing and dealing with information, yet he's the world's greatest soldier and has these gifts to protect it selflessly. Throw in the Winter Soldier coming back to haunt him and it's a decent bit of fleshing out Steve Rogers the character.
I doff my cap to screen writing duo Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely for keeping together the multiple plot points and the witty and engaging script spread across the characters at a break neck pace. They're really knocked the last couple of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies out of the park. What failed in the first Cap movie's direction is more than made up in The Winter Soldier by the usual comedy directing duo The Russo Brothers (Community & Arrested Development). They surprisingly know how to put together awesome action sequences and bring the world of SHIELD to life. There's so many of said awesome sequences, it's very hard to pick just one out and put on a pedestal because there is no relenting of enjoyable action on screen. I'll go back to that Fury car chase scene - its been years since I've enjoyed one of them and here it's one of the film's many highlights. The Russos have the first shot of summer blockbuster season and kudos to them for laying down a massive standard to other films to compete with.
Whilst I'm not one for spoilers and I'm not going to use them, everything you think will happen in this film from trailers doesn't. I don't know how they managed to keep the massive twist in this hush hush, but if you're really familiar to the Marvel Comics, you will be very happy at some of the surprises in store plot and character wise. The Winter Soldier is one of my favourite storylines from comics recently and I was a bit hesitant in seeing it on the big screen. It's perhaps one of the few times I've grown really attached to a newer character and yet it's handled so well in the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The end of the film is a comic crossover style deck clearing exercise which sets up the status quo for a lot of characters and it's quite welcome compared to other comic films where not much changes.
That's probably the major hindrance to Cap's storyline here. Yes he punches people. Yes he throws his mighty shield. Yes he has a fair share of lines. But yet, there's a feeling that he's nearly crowded out of his own movie by all the other characters and events. The Winter Soldier comes perilously close to becoming Avengers 1.5 and distracting from what should be a Captain America movie. At the end of the film, it feels like we're just waiting on the announcement of, ooo a good three new Marvel films for post-A2 now. I mean, I'll see them but it comes at a bit of a cost of making Captain America special on the big screen. His name is the title of the film - he is who I've come to see.
The 411: The best Marvel Cinematic Universe film after The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier lays down a big marker for other summer blockbusters in 2014. Top characters and an unexpected great and surprise filled storyline is polished with some of the best comic book action scenes and fighting. Apart from a slight feeling that it'll only spawn even more Marvel movies, I can't recommend this enough.