Twitter Plot Summary: Cap is back, dealing with corruption within SHIELD and acclimatising to the modern era’s war on fear.
Five Point Summary:
1. Jumping without a parachute.
2. Old school thriller.
3. That’s a lot of old computers. A lot.
4. The plot thickens.
5. Great big explosions!
There was always a concern going into Captain America’s inevitable sequel that it would fail to live up to the impact of the original film, which went back to World War 2 to introduce us to the paragon of patriotism and give him a bit of a scrap with Hugo Weaving in the process. Keeping Cap’s adventures in the modern era, post-Avengers, may not have been everybody’s cup of tea but it was a necessary step to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward – could you really see them stepping back to the 1940s after the Avengers movie?
Anybody who had such concerns can rest easy, as The Winter Soldier hits most of its marks and is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Balancing out political thriller with some impressive moments of action, The Winter Soldier makes Captain America a relevant and modern hero. His ideals may originate from 70 years previously, but they remain pertinent to our current age of surveillance and protection through fear. Unsure as to who to trust, Cap goes on the run from SHIELD in a bid to unravel the mystery, aided by a returning Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie who, as you will have seen from all of the trailers, becomes Falcon. Then there’s the mystery of the titular Winter Soldier, although anybody who has seen the first film or even read some of the comics will know exactly who he is. His storyline isn’t developed as much as it could have been, a little more in terms of background and reasons for his existence would’ve done the trick.
Adding to that old-school vibe is the casting of Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, one of the bigwigs in SHIELD who may or may not be more than meets the eye. The man is fantastic in whatever he does, so it’s little surprise that this carries over to his performance here. It goes to show that comic book movies have moved on some distance since those dark days of David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury, or Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher. The larger universe gets the occasional reference as well – fans of Stephen Strange in particular will be happy for his namecheck.
In terms of Marvel’s choice of directors, I have to say that in this instance the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe), known primarily for their comedic work, are an inspired choice. Despite the hefty amount of action they’re adept with camera placement and keeping the action clear. The script too is worthy of mention, with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely helping create an old-school 70s thriller vibe for the majority of the running time – and it’s no slouch at a few minutes over 2 hours. Luckily it never drags and remains relatively taught throughout, although the post-credits sequence doesn’t add much of value – without dipping into spoilers, you can take or leave it, it doesn’t add much to the overall narrative. The final act may go against much of the previously established vibe – practical effects and set pieces are replaced by a mess of CGI – but this isn’t enough to entirely ruin the film.