If the first Captain America movie was a war film with a superhero, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a modern high-tech spy thriller with a superhero. It’s a testament to the versatility of Marvel Studios’ storytellers that they pulled this sequel off spectacularly.
It’s hard to review Captain America’s latest film outing; there are reveals in the plot that I don’t want to spoil. And honestly, in a word, this movie is brilliant. If you like Marvel superheroes and action movies, this is for you. Stop reading and go and see it, because you do not want to know anything going in. That said, my review is going to be as spoiler-free as possible. I’ll focus on storytelling, production values, acting and I’ll add my own thoughts about it, without telling you the spoiler-y details.
Captain America (Chris Evans) and his supporting cast of heroes are back: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill(Cobie Smulders). Joining up with him this time is a new superhero, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who can fly with artificial wings. Robert Redford plays a top SHIELD official who is Nick Fury’s friend, and there’s a mysterious soldier going around called the Winter Soldier, who is kind of a mythical legend in this universe’s spy community. The great thing about this ensemble cast is how they all have an important role to play, and it doesn’t feel like any of them are extended cameos like in the previous Marvel movies. The actors have also grown into their roles, and we see the main cast play their characters comfortably. Thus, we got a solid performance from them, and I have no complaints in the acting department.
The direction and presentation of the story was a strong point of this movie. The pacing was fantastic, the action set pieces were superbly executed, and you never ever felt bored watching it. The movie plays out like a high-tech action movie and superhero movie both rolled into one, with intrigue and espionage and a lot of plot twists and turns. I find that a perfect spy movie is where a mystery unfolds in front of us and all the key pieces fall into place with each reveal. This movie however, does not quite achieve that level of plot sophistication, though it attempts it. There are plot points that don’t make much sense, but it doesn’t really distract you as the movie’s fun frantic action-packed pace move you along. Also, the villain’s evil scheme had me scratching my head in its absurdity, but it does fit the tone of a comic book movie and is no less ridiculous than any of the over-the-top schemes devised by James Bond villains.
The production values of the movie are as usual, top notch. The interiors and vehicles and costumes are expertly designed, and the fight chereography is superb. The design of Falcon’s look is really cool, as is Captain America’s updated uniform. The jets and carriers are like we’ve seen before in The Avengers, and though it looks a bit CGI at times, I don’t really find it jarring.
I think the most interesting thing about Captain America: The Winter Soldier is how the events of this film are going to send repercussions throughout the entire Marvel universe (including the SHIELD TV show), as the story wasn’t afraid to take bold dramatic directions. Without revealing too much, I can tell you the status quo is not going to remain the same.
In conclusion, I would give Captain America: The Winter Soldier four out of five stars; it’s fun, entertaining and makes us anticipate seeing more of the Avengers heroes in action again.
Do stay for the credits, for there’s a special cameo (or should I say cameos?) at the end.