Monday, August 4 2014, 04:18 PM MDT
Movie Review: Captain America - The Winter Soldier
4 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Recommended To: Anyone looking for an excellent popcorn film packed with action and intelligence.
Synopsis: Still searching for his place in the modern world Captain America (Chris Evans) must team with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to take on a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier.
Review: Captain America: The First Avenger was a delightful surprise and as a result my expectations for The Winter Soldier were probably unreasonably high, particularly when you consider that the Iron Man sequels have failed to live up to the first film. Nonetheless, The Winter Soldier was pretty much everything I could have hoped for as it perfectly balances lighthearted comedy with full throttle action while mixing in a few spy thriller tropes into the narrative. It’s smart, but not too brainy, and a whole lot of fun.
The genius of The Winter Soldier is that screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (working from a concept and story by Ed Brubaker) have crafted a story that is all about character dynamics rather than action sequences. There’s no shortage of fist fights and shoot outs, but they are secondary to the relationships the characters have with each other and how their opinion of themselves evolves throughout the film. Chris Evans turns in a finely nuanced performance as Captain America struggles to retain his idealistic patriotism in a world dominated by self-interest and backroom politics. Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson also bring more depth to their characters as Nick Fury shows a vulnerable side and Black Widow drops her guard just enough to see what might be the real person behind the metaphorical mask. Robert Redford plays political mastermind Alexander Pierce with a laidback confidence that feels terrifyingly real. He reeks of hidden agendas, but his charisma is overpowering.
The Winter Soldier is a fantastic film that transcends the superhero genre as it examines patriotism in a world that isn’t defined in black and white terms while also addressing the timely theme of safety at the cost of freedom. Iron Man might be the box office gem in Marvel’s crown, but Captain America is proving to be the soul of the Avengers. Which is, of course, is exactly what he should be.
-Ryan Michael Painter