UK Release Date: 26th March 2014
Runtime: 136 minutes
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Robert Redford
Synopsis: As he battles to adjust to the present day, Cap isn’t sure who he can trust as he butts heads with a huge conspiracy and the mysterious villain of the title.
Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is now in full swing, with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World proving hugely successful last year. With those under the belt comes the man many consider to be the least impressive of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: Captain America. And out of nowhere, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best film the studio has made since the Avengers assembled.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) are on active duty for SHIELD, when Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) shows Cap a controversial new initiative to defend the world. With Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) at the helm and new hero The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) on side, SHIELD must deal with the mysterious threat of the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
It’s no understatement to say that the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier send shockwaves throughout the MCU. Whilst there are punch-ups aplenty and the standard high gag rate, the film is primarily a knotty conspiracy thriller – an environment in which no-one can be trusted.
| "This isn’t freedom. This is fear."
Marvel understand the problems with Cap. They know that people think he has the least interesting super powers and that Chris Evans is boring in the leading role. So, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they shrewdly play to his strengths.
He’s the likeable everyman stuck in the wrong time who can’t understand the cynicism of the modern world. Amidst the usual dichotomy of freedom vs fear are allusions to NSA spying, government suppression of dissent and the power of social media.
Evans carries the role perfectly, and has great chemistry with both Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, who provide many of the film’s lighter touches. Samuel L Jackson is reliably excellent as Nick Fury, here sparring with a cleverly cast Robert Redford as one of SHIELD’s highest level officials.
| "SHIELD takes the world as it is, not as we’d like to be."
However, the weighty espionage plotting doesn’t come at the expense of ass-kicking superhero action. Replacing previous helmer Joe Johnston, the Russo Brothers make great use of the skills they honed on the second paintball-themed episode of Community to produce some excellent fight scenes and thrilling chases. Those sceptical about the offensive capabilities of Cap’s shield will be silenced.
But Captain America: The Winter Soldier never feels like it’s about the carnage and mayhem. It’s a superhero movie for our time, highlighted by a character who couldn’t be less modern, and ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it has made sure that the MCU will never be the same.
Pop or Poop?
Heavy on political thrills, as well as shield-hurling action, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the kind of accomplished work we have come to expect from Marvel’s superhero movies.
It packs in great performances, crackling wit and a dense conspiracy plot that revolutionises the world of the MCU ahead of Phase Three.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.