Rating: 4/5 Stars
Review By: Cole Clay
Chris Evans’ portrayal of Captain America is largely the most uninteresting character in the Marvel Franchise. His first silver screen appearance was corny and aside from a few “bromanitc” moments Steve Rogers (Evans) shared with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and some impressive CGI the film felt short of it’s other”Marvel-ing” counterparts. The spangled hero was even more diluted by his far more intriguing colleagues in 2012‘s billion-dollar baby “Marvel’s: The Avengers.” Now, flash forward to 2014, with two exceptional trailers blazing across the web “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is poised to take this character to new heights.
Part chase film, part thriller and completely pulse-pounding directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Tv’s “Community”) somehow mustered up the most satisfying film out of the nine installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, besides the aforementioned Avengers epic.
We pick up with Steve Rogers as he has transcended from being a WWII hero, to a national treasure and is foremost, his own brand. He still stands strong to his moral code, but he seems to be influenced by the ever progressive 21st century. He is more ruthless and perhaps jaded by his past transgressions that stemmed from the loss of his best friend Barnes. The film is essentially Rogers’ battle with the old and modern world which is carefully masked by a geo-political terrorist plot. The fiendish scheme to control the world through surveillance and drones is not only socially relevant, but is crisply orchestrated without being terribly obvious.
The Russo’s develop a character in which has always cloaked himself by his pirate like appearance, that of course is S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury played by career badass Samuel L. Jackson. The audience gets a glimpse into his world through a few sequences that showcase his pedigree as a soldier and his allegiance to the organization he has assembled. A glimpse into Fury’s past is also shown through his relationship with the menacing Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) whose debonaire persona makes him ideally casted for the role as the quintessential power hungry tycoon.
There is no way that a superhero film can be directly compared to the Jason Bourne franchise due to “Winter Solider’s” sheer implausibility. However a heightened sense of mystery is forged from a inherently campy premise. But, for a good third of the film we follow on a thrill-ride as Rogers is on the run from assailants with the pristine Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson).
Johansson is on a career hot streak in terms of her versatility with last year’s “Her” and the upcoming “Under The Skin” making her Hollywood’s most interesting working actress. Yes, she has had notable roles in the past Marvel films, but all she offered audience was a scantly clad bombshell pounding mindless bad-guys. Here Romanoff or codename “Black Widow” is actually taken seriously as a woman and a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. It appears like this is a win-win for fan service and a small step for women portrayed on screen.
Bloated blockbusters have suffered from what I like to call “Transformers-syndrome” where the action is convoluted and fails to have a sense of pace or reason for existing other than to destroy cityscapes. In “The Winter Solider” every set piece has a purpose and is engineered into a cohesive piece of filmmaking, which is a stretch for entries in the action genre.
The film excels in every way by widening the scope of the already ever expansive franchise. It comes as no surprise the Russo brothers are already contracted to head up the next entry in the Captain America franchise due out in 2016. “Captain America: Winter Solider” is undoubtedly the superior entry of the two Captain America films mainly due to the fact that they finally dove head first into the once shallow psyche of Steve Rogers. Let’s hope the Russo’s can get his squeaky clean image even a little dirtier.
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