Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
The Winter Soldier picks up following the events of The Avengers, with Steve Rogers now a fully-fledged member of S.H.I.E.L.D. After a mission in the Indian Ocean, Rogers starts to become suspicious of and disillusioned with the organization that is keeping secrets from him. After pressing Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) Rogers learns that under the leadership of Secretary Pierce (Robert Redford) S.H.I.E.L.D. is constructing a dangerous scheme to eliminate a lot of threats before they even happen. With Rogers lamenting to Fury, ‘this isn’t freedom, this is fear’ Soon there is an attempt on a significant character’s life by the mysterious Winter Soldier, forcing Captain America to go on the run along with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and embark on a journey to uncover the forces that have made S.H.I.E.L.D. rotten at the core.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is another enjoyable, serviceable entry into the Marvel cinematic universe (the MCU as us cool kids on the Internet refer to it as) however it isn’t anything more than that. There are some very interesting ideas within this film, particularly regarding the extent to which people are prepared to sacrifice freedom for security. However these ideas aren’t fully developed and in certain ways the film cops out of being the scathing and subversive critique it seemed set to be. It is not just the ideas that are undeveloped, with the emotional core of the film strangely lacking. An early scene in the film perfectly demonstrates this overarching issue. When Rogers meets an old friend from the 1940’s, it is a scene that should be incredibly moving and perhaps more than just one scene, however its brevity means it lacks the true emotional punch it could of and should have had. This applies to the centre of the film with the titular Winter Soldier. Whilst an effective villain, he becomes nothing more than a mindless killing machine, despite the immense emotional potential of that character.
However despite the central problems regarding the underdevelopment of key ideas and emotional conflicts, there is a lot to admire and enjoy within The Winter Soldier. The film is a refreshing rarity in the MCU not just due to its genre trappings but also its hand-to-hand combat. We don’t have the robot smashes of Iron Man 3 or the intergalactic god tussles of Thor, and instead we get some thrilling fight choreography. Joe and Anthony Russo, despite being best known for directing TV comedy (Such as two of my favourite shows Arrested Development and Community) show themselves as incredibly adept at doing big screen action. There are some scenes that whilst you are watching them, simply put, are awesome. Though as an eighteen-year-old comic book movie fan, I am more inclined than most to think that. However watching Captain America beat up a bunch of guys in a lift (A sequence that is wonderfully built-up) and jump off a motorbike and take out a highly advanced military plane with his trusty shield is undeniably fun stuff. The cool moments aren’t just reserved for the scenes of action however, with the film inventively reviving a former character through artificial intelligence. It is a sequence that manages to be both essentially a tool for exposition but also comedic and creative.
Regarding the performances, Chris Evans is once again perfect as Captain America, though you could be forgiven for thinking he’s bland, what with the script never really, truly giving him another note to play. Scarlett Johansson is good again as Black Widow, however the film rather unsuccessfully tries to make her comedic in the opening act and throughout seems rather unsure of how to approach her character. Samuel L. Jackson does his routine as Nick Fury, whilst it’s fun seeing Robert Redford playing the sort of role he plays and playing it in this sort of film. However my favourite performance of the film belongs to Anthony Mackie as a new super-heroic addition, Falcon. His friendship with Rogers is believably and enjoyably developed throughout the film, with him feeling like a natural and welcome inclusion into this universe.
The film has many wonderful little references and Easter eggs that are sure to delight the fans. From references to other, yet to be seen, figures within Marvel to what is perhaps the most genius reference to Pulp Fiction ever, this film is full of treats for the attentive enthusiast. Whilst Marvel is getting much better at this credits scene business, with the mid-credits sting being a surprisingly sinister introduction to new characters and a further hint towards the ultimate expansion of the Marvel universe. However, when these credit stings and hints start to become more exciting and more of an event than the film that preceded them (As is arguably the case with this and Thor: The Dark World) then this whole master plan approach may be starting to become a problem. As an entry into the Marvel cinematic universe, this film is incredibly significant, with events that will reverberate amongst the whole community. However as a film in its own right, it is enjoyable, well-made, sporadically interesting but ultimately serviceable and forgettable fare.
Movie Parliament Rating: MINORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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