Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Red, White and Bruise
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Review written by Tom Bevis
At this point, the films coming out of Marvel Studios need no introduction. Thanks to the irresistible and insatiable curiosity of the masses and the infinitely long reach of this wonderfully infamous machine we call the Internet, it seems all details of the films are readily available weeks prior to the actual opening. To those who have been reading the comics behind these mega blockbusters, the endgames are even more obvious. I’m always delightedly surprised, though, when the films are able to engage even the most informed audience, creating a kind of artificial shock as the story unfolds.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up sometime after the events of 2012’s The Avengers as Steve Rogers struggles to adapt to his new life in modern Washington D.C. and attempt to find his place in the world. After being offered a glimpse into the inner workings of SHIELD’s newest directive, a covert information-gathering and pre-emptive strike system referred to as Operation: Insight, Rogers begins to question the circumstances and consequences of the organization he now works for.
That moment ignites a high-speed chain reaction of espionage, assassination, and action that carries the film to its conclusion. There is no time to rest during the course of this film. The Russo Brothers, directors of You, Me, and Dupree and little else, manage to craft a viciously engaging and rapid moving film that easily captivates both those who have jumped into the Marvel universe via the onslaught of films as well as the comic book reading veterans.
While Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson stick to the grooves they’ve already adapted after the numerous films their characters have been featured in, Chris Evans finally plunges his teeth into the character of Captain America for the first time in his three films. This presentation of the character, which sees three costume changes on screen, is the first the belongs distinctly and entirely to Evans and, the same as Robert Downey Jr. achieved with Iron Man, it’s truly hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Unlike Iron Man 3 and, to a lesser extent, Thor: The Dark World, the events of The Avengers hold little bearing to the story here and the events of this film have relatively little weight toward 2015’s Avengers sequel. Instead, the scriptwriters opt to craft a story that will shape the future of the characters involved, primarily Steve Rogers, Black Widow, and Nick Fury, and their place in the world instead of shaping the world itself.
The film is laced with a warning regarding the power of government and covert surveillance. Unlike other films hoisting similar banners, though, and unlike other champions of this radically controversial topic, the film refuses to beat the audience over the head with heavy-handed preaching. For those less interested in modern interpretations of social issues, there’s plenty of venturing into the underbellies of secret organizations, rogue technology, and probably the coolest villain glimpsed in the Marvel canon yet.
Winter Soldier is one of the few instances in action film in which all elements converge at the perfect median to create a nearly flawless film. Quite simply put, this is the best of the Marvel films present so far with the exception of The Avengers.