Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Review
The second Captain America is a vast improvement on Cap’s first solo mission and reaches the top ranks of Marvel’s best.
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie,Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp & Cobie Smulders.
Run Time: 136 min.
US Release: 03 May 2014
UK Release: 26 March 2014
German Release: 04 April 2014
My review series that will lead up to Captain America: Civil War continues with an analysis of the second Captain America movie: The Winter Soldier! If you read my review for Captain America: The First Avenger, you will probably have figured out that I am not a big fan of that film but with the change of directors, came a new and fresh take making this movie incredibly appealing. It is by far the grittiest of the MCU movies and gives us the first solo adventure of Steve Rogers in modern times (not acknowledging The Avengers). There is a lot that I liked about The Winter Soldier, so let’s get on with it.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Steve Rogers (Evans) has issues adapting to modern life; it is not only the change in culture that makes him feel like an outcast but also the fact that his old school ideals don’t fit into the modern world of moral complexities. He is unable to trust his partner Black Widow (Johansson) and boss Nick Fury (Jackson), who constantly keep information from him. Things get worse when Fury is “killed” by the mysterious Winter Soldier (Stan), an old friend of Cap’s past, and Hydra makes a reappearance. Rogers needs to confront his trust issues and finds an unexpected ally in former soldier Sam Wilson (Mackie).
The darker and more mature tone of this movie is a great change compared to the more light-hearted first film. It is also very suspenseful and Marvel’s most grounded movie to date, being more of a spy-thriller with superhero aspects than a pure superhero flick, which gives The Winter Soldier a welcome change in atmosphere. It also contains a lot of politics and puts Cap consistently on a path he is not comfortable with. One of the reasons I like this movie, is because it shows that the world of spies is not all shiny and glamourous, but rather a filthy job where you need to get your arms elbow deep in dirt. The dialogues are suspenseful and interesting to follow which gives the movie a good balance between serious and humorous, while the jokes that are included suit the situation well.
I do think that it has a few issues, though, the biggest one being the exposition heavy-dialogue scene with Dr. Zola’s virtual presence, where he explains Hydra’s plan to our heroes. The other one, is more of a personal issue concerning the car chase with Fury; It is not because I didn’t like the scene but rather the car itself did not fit into that grounded world the Russo’s created, reminding me too much of the Knight Rider car!
One of the benefits this movie has is that it doesn’t sell its characters as these unreachable, nearly god-like superheroes but as actual human beings that have issues and need to figure out a way to deal with their everyday problems. The people in this movie are flawed and very vulnerable persons, which included the villains as well. This is one of the reasons I still enjoy this movie when I re-watching it.
Chris Evans is once again fantastic as Captain America. He not only looks the part of the boy-scout hero but also sells his rendition from a psychological point of view. Steve explains to a dying Peggy Carter that the only reason he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. was that he knew she was one of the founders. But he is consistently left in the dark about specific aspects of missions he is sent to, and even feels like he can’t trust his fellow agents and superiors because they are always hiding something from him. This is actually bringing him to a breaking point, where he considers quitting the agency. Evans also manages to sell his fight scenes and stunt work well, making him a believable super soldier.
Scarlett Johansson returns as Black Widow, acting as one of many sidekicks that Cap has in this flick, and she has a terrific chemistry with her co-actor Evans. She does a great job at portraying the character and we keep getting little bits and pieces that hint towards her past (just as we did in Marvel’s The Avengers). This is the film that reveals by far the most about Nick Fury’s character, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson. We get to see a side from the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. that we have never seen before, he is vulnerable and lonely due to him not being able to trust anyone. Samuel L. Jackson gives a fantastic rendition of his character!
With the Red Skull gone, a new leader is given control of the terrorist organisation Hydra, which reformed from within S.H.I.E.L.D. That man is the Secretary of Defense Alexander Pierce, played by Robert Redford, and he was a magnificent character. Being a politician, it is hard to place the character because Redford played his persona as realistic as possible, until the character reveales his allegiance to the secret Nazi organisation himself.
Sebastian Stan does not have a lot of dialogue lines, but is nevertheless amazing as the Winter Soldier and selling his fighting scenes and stunts, which makes him a great villain. Not only does the character cause moral dilemmas for Steve Rogers, being his best and oldest friend he thought to be dead, but the fact that he was experimented upon and brainwashed by Hydra makes him stand out from the typical bad guys. Anthony Mackie is funny and a bad-ass, as Sam Wilson/Falcon and I liked the take on the character for this film series.
The cinematography of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is really good and beautiful to look at, with well-executed stunt work and action scenes that look very realistic. There are a few moments during which shaky cam is used, but it wasn’t overdone and served its purpose in those scenarios. As with most superhero movies the production team made use of computer generated imagery for specific parts, but these are only used in minimal amount. For the most part, the Russo Brothers wanted to keep it as real as possible and succeeded in doing so.
Verdict: The third film of Marvel’s Phase Two is one of the best superhero flicks Marvel Studios produced! It not only proves that this franchise can be mature and grounded, but the tonal shift gives the series a welcome change in style. The best part about this movie is how the Russo brothers focus on producing a spy-thriller, rather than a superhero flick and it suits the storyline, as well as the persona of Captain America very well. The performances are fantastic; especially that of Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, and Samuel L. Jackson and the cinematography is top notch. This is my third favourite Marvel film, topping the first Iron Man, and I can only recommend this flick to anyone who is a fan of comic book movies and spy thrillers. I will give Captain America: The Winter Soldier a 9.5 out of 10!
Thank you very much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. My analysis for Captain America: Civil War will follow this Thursday.