Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Before I start this review I need to be up front about something. I've been reading comics from a very young age, mostly Marvel, and I still read them now. I suppose you could call me a bit of a fanboy when it comes to the Marvel Universe and their diverse range of characters.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I can honestly say that even if I wasn't a Marvel fanboy, I'd still love and enjoy Captain America: The Winter Soldier as much as I do.

The ninth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has Cap and Black Widow working for Nick Fury when S.H.I.E.L.D comes under attack from an unknown enemy. Without knowing who they can trust, they must uncover the enemy before it destroys them all. The script is very much akin to a 70’s political/spy thriller that delivers on all accounts, which has relevance even to this date about the true cost and meaning of freedom.

Steve Rogers is a man out time, and that feeling is even more relevant with this film. In a world with modified morals and ethical shortcuts, Rogers is still trying to fit in and not let his integrity and core beliefs get shaken up. Chris Evans' screen presence is a major win for this film. His ability to reach the full range of the emotional spectrum is testament to his acting prowess. Whether it be as an action star, charming funny man, or in conveying all of the losses that Rogers as a character has endured.

Newcomer Anthony Mackie soars strongly on his own as Sam Wilson, while serving the purpose of Cap’s side kick in this and future films. The real partner of this film though is Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Black Widow’s character continues to evolve throughout her appearances in the MCU and Winter Soldier is no exception. She continues to be haunted by her years as spy which continually weigh down upon her. She and Cap benefit from some fantastically witty dialogue which at times feels like comedic buddy cop duo, even in the heat of battle.

Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury also has more screen time this time around, with scenes showing more genuine emotion than any of his appearances to date in the MCU, as well as more kicking butt and taking names. Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce is much more than a cameo, with Redford giving us a fantastic, understated performance brought from his entire film repertoire. His presence really pushes the feel of a 70’s political/spy thriller.

The aptly named Winter Soldier is a cold and terrifying villain portrayed by the returning Sebastian Stan. Determined, destructive, and unrelenting, he is more than a match for our Sentinel of Liberty. I won’t say any more on the character as it is more enjoyable to experience on screen, but suffice it to say, hats off to all involved for a great adaption of Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier story arc as source material. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by Cap scribe Ed Brubaker as "Scientist #2".

I had some concerns before going in to see this film, as the only works I knew Anthony and Joe
Russo had directed/produced were Community and Happy Endings. Suffice it to say that my concerns were entirely unwarranted and I won’t question them again, especially since they've signed on to direct the third Captain America film. The film delivered on so many levels and not one minute of screen time was wasted. Comedic timing, emotional resonance, suspense, superb action, this film has it all.

Speaking of action scenes, they were all but a character unto themselves. Amazingly choreographed and relying heavily on hand to hand combat, every scene felt more fluid and dynamic than CGI possibly can. The fight scenes were obviously shot by stunt doubles, but in no way does it feel as though it's out of place, as well as a mixture of amazingly brutal close combat and acrobatic fighting. I felt in the first film that you never really got a sense how powerful Steve Rogers is, but in this film  he cuts loose and you can really tell that he’s a Super Soldier. The use of Cap’s shield in this film is also an improvement over the first film, as it doesn’t feel like a tool but just another extension of him.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superb sequel which surpasses the first film and is easily one of the best Marvel films to come out. It’s also a film that irrevocably changes the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the point where it will affect the status quo of all Marvel properties. Trust me; it’s not going to be the same place that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes left it.

- Billy


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