"Captain America: The Winter Soldier"
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
As the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is busy dealing with double agents, hidden terrorist cells and information leaks, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), better known as Captain America, is escorted by five men to the lower levels of the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. As more and more men board the elevator, Rogers comes to a realization: He has been set up. Carnage ensues, and Rogers ultimately prevails in the end. He then bursts through the elevator, ardent to escape S.H.I.E.L.D. and discover who sent the attackers after him.
Scenes like this are why “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the sequel to “Captain America: The First Avenger,” is such an enjoyable, action-packed thrill ride of a film. The fight scenes are simply outstanding, with many of the characters engaging in vicious hand-to-hand combat that seems so real the audience may feel the intensity behind every single punch thrown. The scenes, visually, are simple enough to follow so the action never gets lost or muddled, while still featuring complex choreography, ensuring that the viewers won’t lose interest.
The film’s intriguing storyline has Captain America team up with some familiar faces from the Marvel movie franchise, including Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and newcomer Sam Wilson, also known as Falcon (Anthony Mackie), in order to uncover a possible leak within S.H.I.E.L.D. They also battle against the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), an enigmatic, unstoppable assassin who provides the Captain with his biggest challenge yet. While there are a couple of obvious twists the viewer can see coming from relatively early on in the film, there are also a few that will leave any viewer completely shocked and satisfied. This can also be said about the more expected twists because, while predictable, they are still enjoyable and serve the story in a well-written way.
The best part about of the film is the Captain himself. Evans does an amazing job at portraying the ultimate fish-out-of-water. Whether fighting for his older, Golden Era ideals of trusting his fellow comrades or simply making a list of iconic pop culture to catch up on such as Star Wars, Evans perfectly conveys the emotional issues of a man not only adjusting to an ever-changing world, but also rebuilding an entirely new life. The chemistry between him and all of his co-stars is engaging and magnetic, especially during scenes of action with Johansson and Mackie. Evans could have played Captain America as the stereotypical “good guy” character, but thankfully he manages to craft a complex, three-dimensional persona out of a simple, two-dimensional concept.
There are only a few flaws in this film. The running time is a little over two hours, but it feels longer because some action scenes toward the middle of the film made it seem like the director was adding them as padding to counteract the many other scenes with just dialogue. Additionally, because it is a part of a larger movie franchise, any potential viewer would have to see preceding films in order to fully appreciate all of the issues, twists and references in this one.
Ultimately, these issues are minute and inconsequential to the film as a whole. Many aspects work incredibly well and is definitely one of, if not the best, film Marvel has released in the last five years. With its excellent casting, interesting storyline and hardcore action, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a film that both comic book and movie fans can easily get behind.