Captain America: The Winter Solider
Stars Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford,
Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stain and Cobie Smulders
Anthony Russo, Joe Russo and Josh Whedon, directors
Running time: 136 minutes
Marvel should really look at Captain America: The Winter Solider as redemption. It is a far better movie than Captain America: The First Avenger, which was nearly unwatchable. Although necessary, the back story bogged down the action and sometimes the action looked cartoonish.
Not so for round two. If you missed the first movie you won’t need it to get the gist of this story. By giving Captain America angst – a reason to question what and who he’s fighting for and against – Steve Rogers goes from a cardboard cutout to an engaging character. Rogers (Chris Evans) is having trust issues with SHIELD and boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s feeling both may be getting out of hand. When Fury is attacked by The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stain), Rogers becomes a suspect and finds SHIELD has a few trust issues with him, especially from Fury’s friend Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford).
Captain America’s bigger problem is the Winter Solider, who is about as strong as he is but far more deadly. He’s a Russian agent that’s had a hand in history since World War I that no one can put a face on or even prove his existence. A ghost.
That’s part of the story which shifts from plot to subplot to twist at a dizzying pace. There’s a big reveal which changes a lot and puts certain characters into question. The Russo’s and Whedon keep the pace skipping along, slowing down for a hinted at but never realized romance between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Rogers. There’s also some quality time with Fury, which finally has a bigger role in a Marvel movie.
There’s plenty of action. Car chases (Fury’s SUV is way too cool), fight and flight scenes are well thought out. Captain America’s fight scenes are much more intense and he proves he’s just as good at fighting humans as well as aliens. Black widow has a few spectacular moves that are more like those in the second Iron Man.
Perhaps the most interesting character is Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). His sense of humor helps open the film which establishes his relationship with Rogers. This helps to lighten the tone of this gritty, but entertaining film. He gets the best one-liners, has the quickest wit and can fly. He can even out maneuver jets with big guns. Marvel scrapped the Falcon’s red & white tights for basic fatigues and black wings. When he makes his appearance the action ticks up
This movie fits nicely in the Marvel Universe which seems to be expanding all the time. Several minor characters from the Avengers are brought in for continuity. Yes, there are those extra scenes that hint at what’s two come. Stay through all the credits. Heck, if you want to see the title of the film appear on screen you will have to stay until the credits.
Captain America: The Winter Solider opens nation wide April 4.