Sunday, March 30, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014
Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp

Plot: While struggling to adapt to a world he doesn't recognise, Steve Rogers discovers treachery amongst SHIELD's ranks. With only a few people he can trust, he has to stop a plot that will radically change the world for the worse. At the same time, Rogers faces an enemy who was once his best friend he thought was dead.

Review: After seeing Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World ignore SHIELD's presence and influence, it's nice to see them back here. But then again, it's only fitting since Captain America is a man who fights for freedom, which in turn is related to SHIELD's worldwide peacekeeping activities.

In this sequel, Steve Rogers is a man out of time, trying to adapt to things he didn't have back in his day. But a bigger problem arises when Nick Fury tells him of SHIELD's latest project, which involves eliminating threats before they occur. This doesn't sit well with Rogers, who believes in freedom and not fear. But there's more to the project than what it seems, and Rogers discovers a long gestating plot within SHIELD's ranks that will be bad for everyone if left alone. On top of all this, he runs into someone he thought was long dead, and if you've been reading up on plot details or the comic book arc this film is based on, you'd know this person is his old friend turned foe, Bucky Barnes.

Joe & Anthony Russo deserve plenty of credit for their awesome work here. Along with scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the Russos successfully blend a superhero film with a spy thriller, so there's a nice balance of action and intrigue overall. Having Robert Redford, the face of 70s spy thrillers in it surely doesn't hurt either. Speaking of the action, word has it that most of it was done without CGI, so I'm guessing they only used it for the grand final sequence involving three helicarriers, which makes this film all the more awesome.

Chris Evans once again steps into the role of Captain America / Steve Rogers, and he's certainly grown into it. He looks in great shape and hasn't missed a beat at all. Scarlett Johansson also returns to her Black Widow role, and does a great job with it. She still excels in the action sequences, though she stands out more in her quieter scenes with Evans, with a little insight on her character. Anthony Mackie makes his Marvel debut as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, Rogers' sidekick, and is pretty much the funny guy in the film. Sebastian Stan reprises his role as Bucky Barnes, only this time he's a much meaner guy as Rogers' foe, and is pretty capable of matching him blow for blow. Stan doesn't get a lot of lines here, but makes good on becoming a tragic villain.

Also making a comeback are Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders as Fury and Maria Hill respectively. Their presence almost makes this another Avengers film to be honest, and both fill their roles well, especially Jackson. Finally, Robert Redford, who doesn't look as old as he really is, lends his great screen presence as Alexander Pierce, Fury's superior. This is actually a key role as you will discover, and he does it effortlessly.

As far as post Avengers films are concerned, this is actually the strongest one to date. I can't think of anything bad about Captain America: The Winter Soldier right now, it's pretty damn good. I'm thinking it's even better than the upcoming Spider-Man sequel, but we'll see. Highly recommended.

P.S.: As usual, stay for the post credits scenes. The mid-credits one is especially exciting, if you're a comic geek like me. (4.5/5)   

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