Captain America The Winter Soldier, by far the best of the Marvel films to date

After the preceding Marvel films were all good to great (I consider the Captain America to be the only missed step), this sequel had a lot to do.

Personally, I’m not a huge Cap fan but as a total film geek I went to see this anyway to see how it tied in or lead up to The Avengers 2.

Captain America - The Winter Soldier

Two word review? Job done.

The film opens with Cap on a mission to free some hostages of a rogue ship or something. This is the first thing that perked up my interest in the character. He seems to be less wooden and he and Widow have a bit of a to and fro, then he jumps out the plane and proceeds to kick all kinds of ass.

This section has some amazing action and sets the tone for the whole film. We see a more aggressive Captain America as he ploughs through the bad guys.

There’s a bit of spy thriller going on here from the start with Black Widow doing some sneaky, sneaky stuff but also kicking some ass. Once the mission’s over, we get back to SHIELD HQ for some setup and exposition.

We see Sam Jackson and Chris Evans have a bit of a chat. Jackson, playing Fury again, does what he needs to do and the film continues on its talky bit/explosions and fighting bit routine. This is not a bad thing.

Captain America - The Winter Soldier

The plot goes on deepening the whole idea of SHIELD and where it’s been, who it answers to and where it’s going. The film centres around the idea of freedom and what the cost is. When does protection become control, and so on.

We get a good look inside SHIELD’s headquarters and see the next gen heli-carriers and the shield jets.

Robert Redford plays the head of SHIELD and adds a kind of legitimacy to the film. He’s the all American secret service guy. We also meet Antony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and get some good natural dialogue between Sam and Cap.

Then it all goes nuts.

Turns out that there are all sorts of shenanigans at SHIELD HQ and now Cap and Widow are on the run. There’s some great scenes with Nick Fury that just add a bit of depth to the character, he’s still a bad ass but we get to see that even he can’t control some things.

Then we meet the Winter Soldier. He’s an absolute monster. He’s been likened to the Terminator. This is a stand out character in the movie and the final piece before things really get going. Once we get introduced to him, the film just takes off.

Bombastic action scene after bombastic action scene, there’s twists and turns in the plot. Rest assured this really is a total balls out action adventure film.

Captain America - The Winter Soldier

The set pieces are really well put together, it never feels crowded and even though there are plenty of characters and a lot going on it never feels like too much is going on.

The film could stand out on its own within the Avengers universe. There’s plenty of reminders and name dropping to make sure we all know that it is indeed in the same space though. Also, I’m sure at one point I saw the Baxter Building on a computer screen.
Cobie Smulders pops up and I was half expecting Agent Coulson to make an appearance. Alan Dale appears too, playing his usual “serious government man” role.

Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans get a fair chunk of screen time to themselves and flesh out their characters quite a bit (half of which is Johansson’s character trying to set Cap up with girls in the office).

It’s the most character-driven of all the Marvel films so far. Evans is in the same ridiculously superhero shape again and does a great job being a likable, everyman, badass hero (if that even makes sense). It’s not all kick, punch, boom boom and it never feels slow. Falcon has some good sequences too. The main battle above one of the heli-carriers is a stunning.

There’s a real feeling of peril when the Winter Soldier makes his appearance. He’s a properly unstoppable force when he’s on screen. He’s a cross between Bane and, as I wrote before, the Terminator. Just wait for the sound effect when he punches Caps shield!

Stan Lee get his usual 30 seconds of screen time too.

My only gripe with the film is a few CGI shots of the main characters, but that’s a personal thing; there’s also a couple of plot holes but hey, it’s a movie. I’m sure some people out there will take exception to some of them, though.

Overall, it’s exactly the kind of cinematic eye candy and super hero madness we all need. It’s a superhero film with an actual film plot other than “get this bad guy, he’s bad”.

The end credits are really cool too, and look like something out of a 70’s TV show.

This is by far the best of the Marvel films to date. Pacing is good, action is great and the cast is superbly able to deliver what they need. Avengers 2 has some work ahead of it.