Still the best out of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it’s been three years since Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) came out in theaters. As far as origin films go, the tone was good, the bad guy was incredibly bad, and the stage was set for more layers of the character to be explored in a sequel.
After The First Avenger, I had no idea what to expect next from a Captain America follow-up. I mean, sure, Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) was inevitable and gave us plenty to chew on until Cap got his own movie again, but what were they going to do with this pop culture icon in a new world where morals are practically gone and spying isn’t so much clandestine as it is an everyday constant?
Well, that sequel is here. But will it capture that first film’s magic or fall flat on its feet? Let’s find out!
The Story And The People Who Get Paid To Talk
Not too fond of his new role,Captain America (Chris Evans) is back working with S.H.I.E.D mostly as a Special Ops foot soldier. Naturally, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is still pulling the strings and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is doing the dirty work alongside him, but things are not all that they seem.
When Fury shows Cap a trio of fully tricked out helicarriers meant to spy on the world and resolve conflicts before they happen, Captain America wants no part of it. He doesn’t believe that’s protection, that’s a holding a gun to the world’s head and telling it to behave. Fury politely disagrees, but soon finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that is way over his head.
When a mysterious assassin named “The Winter Soldier” steps in and starts leaving dead bodies behind, all hell breaks loose, causing a giant game of cat and mouse with the Captain. Even worse, it forces our hero to decide who to believe and who to fight against.
And it works. The subject matter is oh so topical and who else but Captain America could be used to deal with such issues as non-stop spying and “preemptive” justice?
This story, coupled with some great acting, makes CATWS an enjoyable experience. Jackson (as always) is entertaining, and Johansson manages to give the Black Widow layers that haven’t been seen in any of her previous appearances.
Many other supporting characters give surprisingly good performances. In particular,
Robert Redford as a devilish top bureaucrat at S.H.E.I.L.D.
Anthony Mackie’s turn as Falcon is possibly the biggest surprise of the movie. Whereas other characters have been thrown in and simply “folded” into Marvel’s overall story, here we have a character whose development is woven into the fabric of the movie and gives it a surprising level of emotional resonance.
You know the crazy thing about Marvel movies? Despite all the different directors, actors, and writers involved they all share the same Marvel “feel.” The universe continues to have the right amount of humor, action, and emotional depth that keeps people coming back. That continues to shine here.
The action is intense and the danger feels real. The humor is spot on. The characters are true to themselves and, at times, there are moments that tug at your heart.
The directors — the Russo brothers — should be celebrated for that. After watching this movie it’s clear that the directing duo spared no expense. There are so many clever details and awesome action moments that you can just tell that they were swinging for the bleachers. Most importantly, they wanted to throw in more “smart” moments and not just flashy one. That’s what pushes this movie from good to great.
For all the film’s great action sequences and scope I thought the there was a lack of bite to the overall story. While the movie did everything it was supposed to do, and leaves plenty of room for sequels (as all Marvel movies do) I wanted more from the film’s bad guys. The stakes are high enough and there’s plenty going on, but the Winter Soldier felt a bit too cold to keep me interested.
Also, the movie may leave a few too many unanswered questions for its own good.
But that’s nit-picking. This movie is another home run for Marvel studios and leaves you hungry for more. Definitely worth your money and most importantly it’s ACTION A GO GO APPROVED!