reviewed by Tom-Tom
Captain America was the odd one out in Marvel’s The Avengers. He was the only one without a snappy way of speaking or expertise knowledge of spycraft, technology, gamma radiation, or Asgardian affairs. He was in his comfort zone delegating attack patterns to his team. Here, in the second Captain America movie, Steve Rogers, the man behind the mask, remains the man he was in the first film. He doesn’t want to kill anyone but he doesn’t like bullies. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, finally getting a more involved role outside an Avengers film) points him in a direction and he kicks ass aided by the acrobatically badass Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
Winter Soldier begins with something refreshing. Steve Rogers, super soldier is running in the National Mall in Washington DC around that pool-like area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The message: even superheroes need to exercise. He is joined by Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, charming as always) to whom he declares “On your left” the many times Cap passes the ex-soldier up. They have an immediate bromance-like moment as they reflect on running and their respective military service. Sam works at the VA as a counselor for veterans attempting to readapt to daily life in the States. No longer quite the “Man Out of Time” he was in the previous Avengers film, Cap has made a list of important 20th/21st Century cultural media in a memo pad to which to acquaint himself with. Sam suggests a Marvin Gaye soundtrack to “Trouble Man.”
Next comes the obligatory qualification scene for our hero, a daring hostage rescue on a SHIELD ship. Cap runs through the baddies like a freight train knocking them overboard or unconscious with his mighty shield and the Widow rappels down a staircase taking out baddies on every floor. The fight scenes are realistic, practical, and high speed, more like Jason Bourne than a superhero film. It is a pattern than happily repeats in this action packed film. All the bad guys shoot to kill and only fail due to armor or a shield, not inability. There are no stormtroopers here.
There are many cool action sequences but they never get old even after repeated viewings. They are edited in such a way that keeps the action raw, suspenseful, but never excessive. Cap’s eventually dual with the eponymous mysterious assassin is truly a thing of beauty. The music is broad brass with a steady motor of staccato strings but when the Winter Soldier steps in, it is a frightening metallic scream somewhere between microphone feedback and an electric guitar riff. It is perfectly appropriate because the soldier is a major badass. He doesn’t miss and is relentless as hell. He’s not your typical, wait for the good guy to get up before shooting/stabbing/kicking/smashing with his deadly bionic arm. There’s no such nonsense here. It is so refreshing to have such a dedicated foe in any film.
Another badass although on a cool scale rather than a deadly one is Sam Wilson the “Falcon.” The reason for his codename is a joy to behold. He’s not Cap’s sidekick, he is a soaring, diving, speeding success as a character. I was terrified on how the filmmakers were going to depict the Falcon having read the Cap and Falcon comics since the early 90’s, and I am happy to say, they knocked it out of the park.
There is a revelation in this movie which is shocking and brings down the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. It was a daring and ambitious move to make and I’m glad to see it work so well. Ti makes sense and it is even feels applicable to our own real world situation, scarily enough. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an excellent, emotionally charged film with new characters, a great script, suspenseful action scenes, and a satisfying, even tear jerking conclusion. I haven’t made a Top Ten Films of 2014 List yet, but I’m pretty sure Cap will be on it.