Review: Captain America – The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dir. The Russo Brothers, 2014) – Steve Rogers faces an unfamiliar era of moral complexities and a new threat from old history,  the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Verdict

Captain America‘s sequel at last assembles the right team, both on screen and off, and pushes for the grandeur that Steve Rogers deserves.

5/5

Review

Waking to his home made foreign and estranged by time, the last 70 years of quintessential music and baseball history are probably the last thing on Cap’s mind.

Placing that list on the back burner, Steve Rogers finds plenty else to keep busy with. For one, the new era confounds him with a myriad vastly different ideals, at times draped in grey morality. Caught in the Gordian knot of civil liberties, he wrangles with the lasting conundrum of where freedom ends and fear begins.

Finesse lies in this clever exploitation of present-day anxieties that well resonate with the current reality of America’s political climate. The situation finds relevance in the modern age of surveillance, data leaks and drone warfare. Without diving too far into spoiler territory, the grounded premise lays the floor for a compelling political thriller that exceeds your typical comic book adaptation.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“When I say ‘leap’, you say ‘how high’.”

For such a bold and astute spin, it seems unlikely that the action could match up to its wit. But we get the best of both worlds, as directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver some of the most spectacularly thrilling sequences in Marvel cinematic history. Scrap that, these are close to the best the genre offers. Fights and chases never let up for a split second, its tight choreography as relentless as the brunt of the coldest winter.

It all feels apt for Steve’s metal-armed friend-turned-adversary The Winter Soldier, whose ruthless menace kept tension lingering even in his absence. Beneath that front is a man fighting an unseen conflict in his own mind between his stolen past and his mission, and Sebastian Stan plays that balance with exceptional credibility.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“You’re gonna make me unleash the Falcon.”

On Cap’s right is The Falcon, who swoops in with a neat span of wings that awes, but not as much as the man beneath the suit. Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson proved as capable in combat without the metal, and most of all, shines with his gift of repartee.

The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has her own share of wry quips, and gets to put on a show with some serious moves. Iron Man 2 had made for a disappointing debut and Avengers sadly pushed her to the sideline in favour of demigods. But this film finally  unsheathed the best of her personality that makes us yearn more for that standalone movie. (Make it happen, Marvel.)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
What went on in Budapest? I need to know.

Though the themes verge on weighty, the mood hardly dulls for a second. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely bust the myth of how humour may derail a superhero movie from the realistic route.

With a fine team both on and off-screen, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has found the best possible way to interpret a favourite comic book arc, making its way to the highest rung of my personal Marvel cinematic ladder.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Captain America – The Winter Soldier (2014)

    1. I have to say I never quite liked that term; it draws an needless distinction between fun entertainment and serious films. For me, a good film is a good film, no matter who it’s made for! But of course, I do see where you’re coming from, and this was definitely one of the best blockbusters I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks Dan. 🙂

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  1. Daaamn this is a good review. You have a creative way with words.

    I liked the first Cap. Some people seem to think it was the worst of the Marvel universe films, but I really enjoyed it. I am sure I will like this too.

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    1. Thanks much Mike, glad you liked the review!

      Hope you get to see this soon; I thought it surpassed the first by a mile. I did enjoy the first Cap a little, in its perfect telling of how he gradually came to become the star-spangled man. But it started to pale once he donned the suit, largely due to a poorly established villain in a tiresome third act. Certainly not the worst though. Especially if Ghost Rider counts. 😉

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  2. Miss Jade, where you been hiding my whole life – great review and fantastic writing abilities. You must have some serious drive and passion for the arts, my friend. Definitely glad you enjoyed the film.

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