Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The
Winter Soldier
is everything a comic-book superhero movie could hope to be:
smart, original, exciting and funny. It is vastly superior to the first movie
featuring the title character—and not just because it draws on one of the most
admired stories in the Marvel Comics canon. Screenwriters Christopher Markus
and Stephen McFeely have used Ed Brubaker’s concept as a springboard for bold
new ideas and infused their work with a bracing sense of humor, along with a
serious strain of social relevance. In the hands of directors Anthony and Joe
Russo—best known for their work on the TV comedy Community—the movie feels fresh and vibrant. As icing on the cake, The Winter Soldier provides a great part
for Robert Redford, who knocks it out of the park. There’s never a sense of
business-as-usual here, making it one of the best sequels of all time.

One of the writers’ most impressive feats is dealing with
Captain America’s adjustment from the 1940s to the present day, which they do
with extraordinary economy (and comedic savvy) in the opening scene of the
picture and barely have to refer to again.

At its heart, The
Winter Soldier
is a political thriller in which our hero is forced to
question his loyalties for the first time. What’s more, the movie puts us in
the same position, following the admonition of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to
trust no one. This throws us all off balance, but the canny filmmakers execute
their story twists with skill and panache. I’m deliberately being vague about
the details because, having read nothing ahead of time, it all came as a
surprise to me, and I loved it.

The action scenes are equally original and exciting, from a
deadly car chase to a furious fight scene set in a glass elevator. Whether it’s
hand-to-hand combat or spectacular visual-effects-driven showdowns, once again
the movie goes above and beyond the expected and never loses sight of the
emotional stakes in every scene. Nothing ever seems arbitrary: every bit of action
is tied to the story and the fate of its leading characters.

The cast is uniformly fine, with Chris Evans, Scarlett
Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders,
and Frank Grillo delivering the goods, scene by scene. But there’s particular
pleasure in watching the onetime Sundance Kid tackle the most unusual role of
his long and storied screen career. I can’t say more without spilling
surprises, which I refuse to do.

This is blockbuster entertainment at its best. If you’re
wise, you won’t read about it ahead of time and let it work its magic; you
won’t be disappointed.

 

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Comments

Norm

Part Deux: Upon further view the film is extremely violent, great sexual chemistry among CA & BW, never forgets to remind you it is just a comic book, and last but not least Redfords career ending tribute to Hydra, almost fell off the chair laughing…Marvel never fails to use the tired old faithful "fugitive" angle…mucho boring…

James

Wonderful review. I've always had great respect for Leonard Maltin, and while I respect his opinion, I don't think Captain America 2 was quite as good as he said it was. Don't get me wrong it was a really fun movie, but I think it's been a bit overrated.

DBenson

Haven't seen this one yet, but I'd like to put in a good word for the first Captain America. It managed to be unironically fun and entertaining beneath all the CGI and obligatory cliches — more so than many other camped-up, re-imagined or overproduced comic book epics.

Daniel Delago

Sounds like a formulaic plot with a vanilla lead actor in Chris Evans to me. It seems as though many top critics have an "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude toward comic book movies these days. I'll prefer watching Scarlett Johansson in her indie film 'Under the Skin' when it plays in my area.

Sarah

I am not a big superhero movie girl although I have seen my share of Batman, Spiderman and Sumerman films but I knew I would like Captain America if I saw it and enjoyed it more then I thought I would when I did. After reading this I hope to get the chance to see this one.

Jason

Agreed, this film is outstanding (both as a sequel/tie-in and on it's own). The other superhero movies have a lot to live up to this year.

Matthew

Yes, I felt like Marvel had finally produced a film which I and my ten-year-old son could both enjoy in equal measures, without my having to worry (too much) about the graphic violence it contained. I clung to the paranoia aspects, and the fact that the film was self-assured enough to take long breaks from the action to build up the drama. Having said that I would add that the fight scenes themselves were edited far too quickly for my liking. I don't have quite the same level of reservation about the first Captain film, having found myself enamoured by the retro look and feel of it, which haven't had much of a presence in the Marvel/DC adaptations.

Norm

Good to know that Marvel's bag of tricks doesn't run out until the 3rd installment. Stan Lee lived off of the fantastic artwork of a very underrated staff of illustrators who are for the most part forgotton. Lets see a film about them…

Vin

one of the best sequels of all time? That's a bold claim, Maltin.

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