Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 16 min
With talk of this movie being part of Marvel’s ‘phase 2’ plan, these stand alone hero outings have started to feel like warm-up acts for the next Avengers movie. Solid products to be sure and certainly entertaining, but ultimately forgettable. Like a really good theme park ride or firework show.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is another solid addition to Marvel’s campaign portfolio. Moving on from the first film’s obligatory origin story, Winter Soldier attempts to tell a more complex and timely tale. Centered around a single question. What freedoms are you willing to give up in order to feel safe?
This film however isn’t interested in exploring that premise in any kind of meaningful way. It paints this central point in very broad strokes and neatly presents the audience with its opinion. Which isn’t too shocking really coming from a mega-budget superhero movie. But for me what separates these solid, yet forgettable product movies from the more developed productions like say, The Dark Knight or the first Iron Man. Is a willingness to fully explore the story’s central themes and characters, and trust the audience will be willing to follow that journey. Giving people what they didn’t know they wanted, and not more of the same. Otherwise, your story’s premise becomes a hook to hang the film on and not an honest attempt to make your audience think. I doubt people will be discussing the finer points of security over freedom when the credits roll after the Winter Soldier.
As a piece of movie entertainment, The Winter Solder is a solid time at the theater. Chris Evans is again on top form as our standup all-round super nice guy Captain America, and he’s ably supported by Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, a.k.a Falcon. Anthony Mackie’s scenes with Chris Evans ended up being my favorite parts of the film. The visual effects are very nicely put together, and the scale of the finale was impressive. I found some of the close quarter action a little hard to follow, and I didn’t appreciate the amount of hand-held camera use during these moments either.
This looks and feels a lot more modern than the original Captain America film. But, if you enjoyed the first I think you’ll be happy watching this sequel. The action can be a little hard to follow at times, and on select occasions it does strain credibility.
The huge scale of the finale certainly needs to be enjoyed on a large screen. A crowded full price or matinée screening is your best theater bet. If you miss this at the theaters, at home a HD viewing on a nice big TV is recommended. Watching this on a smaller laptop, tablet or even phone size screen will reduce its impact.
Best element for me:
I loved all the scenes with Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans. Their well scripted banter opens the film well, and their characters connection in the film was fun to watch.