Marvel has made its best super hero film to date, by not playing out like a super hero movie.
“Winter Soldier” is the sequel to the premier film, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” in 2011. The film takes place after the events of “The Avengers,” with the Captain, aka Steve Rogers, adjusting to his life in the 21st Century. He lives his life as an agent for SHIELD and works together with Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson.
Rogers follows orders from SHIELD Director Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and carries out those orders on missions. However, Rogers begins to have issues with how SHIELD is operating.
Before Captain America can decide what he really wants from his life and if he wants to be an agent, though, SHIELD becomes compromised by an organization and Rogers, Fury and Romanoff become fugitives. Keeping the protagonists on their toes is a deadly assassin named the Winter Soldier.
The film quickly immerses its audience in darker themes and deals with political issues by setting up a spy espionage plot. The story sets up tension by unraveling at a great pace and introduces turns that will keep people’s interest.
What works so well is that by setting up this spy thriller, the film is taken seriously. It firmly embraces what movie it wants to be and pulls it off nicely. The aspect of the Winter Soldier adds so much suspense, nearly an unstoppable force, rivaling the strength of Captain America.
A small gripe with the film is a few familiar tropes, which mainly show up in the third act. It adds predictability, which brings the film down somewhat. However, this complaint is minor.
Evans is great as Captain America. He plays the role as strong, stoic and keeps the mentality of someone who was from another time in history. He’s honest, shows his faults and problems with what he does at SHIELD, and it makes the character feel like it has depth and keeps the movie more grounded.
Johansson is great as the Black Widow. She’s played the role twice now, yet this is the first time her character has been explored, more than previous installments. She gives the role exactly what it needs, honestly showing she has skeletons in her closet, but still focuses on her missions.
Another returning character is Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. The Hollywood veteran once again is very good in the role of the spy head. Jackson gives a commanding screen presence whenever he shows up and it translates to scenes where he has to lead and direct missions.
Newcomers to the series include Robert Redford, who plays the movie’s main antagonist and Anthony Mackie who performs as the Falcon, a soldier who helps Captain America. Both do well in the movie, with Redford as a behind-the-scenes political villain and Mackie works nicely with Evans’ character.
When one walks into a Marvel movie, they expect action and this delivers better than any other movie from the collective franchises. Not only is the action well shot and directed, but it comes in a variety, too.
There are car chases, gun fights, hand-to-hand combat and the climax features a great usage of CGI during a chaotic finale. Every bit of action can be seen clearly and it doesn’t leave a person feeling like they’ve seen it before.
Like all Marvel movies, there is some humor, yet it is used as a way to humanize the characters and never goes overboard. The film remembers its tone and doesn’t go over the top.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is in the top three Marvel movies ever made. It’s a fantastic sequel, in fact, it can basically stand as its own movie. The story, the cast and the action all seem grounded, which work with the spy theme and in turn makes for a great film to watch. High 4 out of 5.