Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Running Time: 136 min
Release Date: April 4th, 2014 (USA)
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
Plotline: Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
This review is spoiler free!
Of all the Marvel movies introducing their four main Avengers cast, Captain America: The First Avenger was, for a time, my least favorite. Not to say it was bad, but it took a while to grow on me due to aimless storytelling in the middle and feeling overly long. I actually love it now, more for the characters than anything else, so I was looking forward to returning to some of those characters and new ones in The Winter Soldier.
I cried. Multiple times. It delivered on everything I wanted for the characters, and it had an awesome storyline to go with it.
Without getting into too much detail, if you were bothered by the pro-American overtones of the first movie (as I know some people who were), let’s say it won’t be an issue so much in this one. It offers a very scathing commentary on the modern American government, by criticizing SHIELD’s actions and with how the movie unfolds. It’s pretty obvious what the script writers are going for in this storyline.
On the topic of characters, I love what they did with Steve. Instead of a man bumbling his way through the modern world (as some people like to write him) he’s actually an intelligent man who, while sometimes maybe a little overwhelmed by the changes in the world, is quickly catching up to them and even enjoying it. No, his actual problems are that he doesn’t know where he’s most useful in this new world: He’s quickly developing a dislike for how SHIELD does things, and so he doesn’t know where to go if he’s not working for them. How he navigates this and the eventual conclusion of that is grand.
I’m one of the people who actually didn’t care for how Natasha was written in The Avengers. There was always something vaguely off putting by how Whedon portrayed and presented her, and I tend to forget she was even a part of Iron Man 2. (I tend to forget about Iron Man 2 anyway.) This is the Natasha I want: A strong, capable woman with a sense of humour, who’s damn good at her job, who’s allowed to question her life and morals and where that leaves her with people she wants to be close to. There aren’t any long, nasty scenes of her curled up and crying and terrified that Whedon is so fond of putting his heroines into. She gets terrified, and she gets hurt, but it’s not presented as it was in The Avengers, and for that I was exceedingly grateful.
For the newcomers, I adored Anthony Mackie as Falcon. I sincerely hope he’s part of The Age of Ultron. He’s a capable soldier and an honourable human being, and Anthony hits the head on the nail in his acting. His sense of humour helped liven up the frankly dark storyline, but he never fell into the stereotype of whacky black man sidekick. The script treated him respectfully and it showed.
If there was a downside to the movie, it was the shaky cam. Please, Hollywood, for the love of all that is holy: ENOUGH WITH THE SHAKY CAM. How are audiences supposed to appreciate the action scenes and the work the actors put into learning how to wield weapons if we can’t actually see it? And it was such a weird use of the shaky cam as well. Sometimes it was used in action scenes, sometimes not.
Also, people looking for a really in depth exploration of certain characters backstories will be disappointed. We do get little tidbits from Natasha, but we don’t go into the Red Room business (if that’s even going to be brought up or included in the MCU canon.) I understand why they chose to hold back on it, because the movie was packed to bursting already, but I also understand that some comic fans may be disappointed in the decision to include it at a later time.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a great, heartrending action movie. It’s a great follow up not only to The Avengers but also to the first Captain America movie.