Movie #19: Captain America: Winter Soldier

captain america winter soldier

Even after his own first Captain America movie, followed by his major role in The Avengers, I still don’t really see Chris Evans as being a good fit for the title role. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is an awesome action star and leading man, but he just doesn’t really have that blonde, all-American essence that Captain America really needs. Fortunately, in the Marvel movie-verse, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. I guess when you merge comic books with movies, you have to pick which conventions you take from each format. Since it has already been established that Captain America works for/with SHIELD (Marvel’s US/global anti-terrorism, peacekeeping force), there was expectedly going to be a lot of things in common with a regular spy-fi films (albeit with a super-human agent at the lead). When the bad guys appear to be in SHIELD’s midst, and they try to take out SHIELD director Nick Fury (played again by Samuel L. Jackson) Captain America (with his ally, Black Widow, played again by Scarlett Johansson) finds himself on the wrong side and goes on the run with Widow while they try to figure things out. Once Captain America ditches his stars-and-stripes uniform to hide in plain sight, the movie feels a whole lot more like one of the Bourne films than a super-hero movie. While I’m not sure I grasped all the intricacies of the political backbone to the overall storyline, as usual these movies do a pretty good job of helping the audience understand who the bad guys are and why they should be stopped (and hopefully without the need for a villainous monologue). When the missiles are flying and someone needs to swap out a piece of silicon to enable the good guys to take over, it’s all fun with or without spandex (but it’s pretty cool that Cap puts his back on). The action sequences and fight choreography are top notch. In this case there is no CGI Hulk or celestial linebacker like Thor around to put things smashingly over-the-top, but between Cap and his mysterious nemesis known as the Winter Soldier, there are some thrilling hand-to-hand and shield-tossing scenes. (Though the whole Winter Soldier subplot really didn’t get enough screen time to make it interesting.) Add to that some clever stunts from former-KGB operative, Black Widow, and equally cool aerial stuff from the new Falcon (he looks much slicker here than as the red-and-white comic book version), and the action alone is worth the price of admission. As I mentioned, the political intrigue was nothing too original, though it’s been much hyped for its carryover impact onto the TV series Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (which ended up jumpstarting the series as it lagged midway into its debut season). However, something I didn’t expect was the clever banter between Johansson and Evans, sending-up their roles as “colleagues” within SHIELD. Cute. To top it all off, you have some acting juggernauts in Samuel Jackson as well as Robert Redford playing a powerfully self-righteous US senator. As valiant an attempt as this was, it’s still pretty tricky to get the balance right between the over-sized unrealism of the comic book universe of Captain America, and the somewhat more realistic universe of a political thriller. Regardless, they do have all the elements here for is an exciting and well-executed action-drama. (4.5 out of 5)

19 down, 31 to go.

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