Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is trying to integrate into the modern world after being frozen since World War II. To occupy his time, he takes on missions for SHIELD. When director of SHIELD Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by a mysterious assailant known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Steve must confront an enemy from his past, an enemy he thought was long forgotten.
Oh Marvel, you clever people. Few studios can continuously churn out movies the way you do and maintain such a high quality. Captain America: The Winter Soldier continues Marvel’s excellent Phase 2 slate of movies by stepping on the accelerator and never slowing down. Add equal parts action, spy thriller, and character development, with a great reveal and an explosive ending that leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a new status-quo, and you’ve got yourself a movie that not only excels as a superhero movie, but an action and spy thriller as well.
The movie starts with Cap going on a mission to free SHIELD agents kidnapped when their ship is hijacked by pirates (which introduced Batroc the Leaper, played by former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, into the Cinematic Universe). This scene shows much about how Cap thinks about the world, about how soldiers should trust each other, and sows seeds of his doubt about working for such a secretive organization such as SHIELD. It was the first look at his mindset and the rest of the movie does great to build off what is seen in this first scene (well technically second but the first was the opening scene so it doesn’t count).
The action only continues to grow from there. All the action set pieces are huge and look amazing. Every action sequence is filled to the brim with explosions and/or hand-to-hand combat, all of which are extremely well choreographed. The scenes with the Winter Soldier were especially exhilarating. Going back to the opening scene and the ship infiltration scene I mentioned, it is clearly obvious Cap has a significant strength advantage over, well, pretty much everyone else. What’s great about the Winter Soldier is he gives Cap an adversary that not only had a personal connection with him, but also could match Cap blow for blow.
Cap’s fighting style has evolved much since he donned his shield back in The First Avenger. In that film he wasn’t using it much since he was just starting. And in The Avengers, he was throwing his shield around and using his military combat training, but his fighting style still wasn’t yet that developed. But in this movie, we get to see what Cap is truly capable of as a man in peak physical condition. He is very acrobatic, leaping around his enemies and parkouring around his environment and utilizing his shield more offensively and effectively.
I was surprised how much screen time Agent Sitwell has. I always thought he was just a SHIELD agent that Marvel could throw in to give the audience a familiar face. That’s changed. He has a significant role this time around. I’ve always felt Maximiliano Hernandez did great with the part, so it was cool to see him in a more expanded role. On the flip side, I was hoping Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter aka Peggy Carter’s daughter (although that part wasn’t explained in the movie), played by Emily VanCamp, would have more screen time. I guess there were enough new characters introduced that someone had to go on the backseat. Hopefully she will have a larger role in Captain America 3.
Marvel has done well to develop strong villains in their movies, most of whom have some sort of personal relationship with the hero. The villain here, more than just the Winter Soldier, has a close relationship with Cap. I was taken aback when they showed their true colors and revealed themselves. Not only was the reveal executed effectively, but they had a deep motivation to their actions.
As I said before, the action in The Winter Soldier is huge and spectacular. However, there was one problem: it was hard to see it with the camera shaking so much! The shaky-cam can be used as an interesting effect, but when it is used all the time, it becomes jarring and irritating and is one of my movie pet peeves. I would have loved to see the fight between Cap and The Winter Soldier in all its glory, especially because it was clear a lot of effort went into making it exhilarating.
From the first explosive scene, you know right away you are in for a wild ride. Even during the non-action scenes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier keeps you interested in what is happening on screen. The action set pieces are huge and impressive, with some well choreographed hand-to-hand fights thrown in for good measure. Caps style has really grown since he first picked up his shield and he shows what a super soldier is capable of. Sitwell had a larger part than anticipated, which is welcome since I have always enjoyed the character. The reveal of the villain is well done and even took me somewhat by surprise. Even if you pick it up from the trailer, it isn’t exactly what you think. As cool as the action was, it was shot using the shaky-cam effect, making the awesome action sequences difficult to watch. Without a doubt, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has left the Marvel Cinematic Universe drastically changed and I can’t wait to see how the pieces are picked up in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Cast & Crew
Anthony Russo – Director
Joe Russo – Director
Christopher Markus – Screenplay
Stephen McFeely – Screenplay
Ed Brubaker – Story
Henry Jackman – Composer
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers/Captain America
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Robert Redford – Alexander Pierce
Anthony Mackie – Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan – Winter Soldier
Frank Grillo – Brock Rumlow
Callan Mulvey – Jack Rollins
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Maximiliano Hernandez – Jasper Sitwell
Emily VanCamp – Sharon Carter/Agent 13
Hayley Atwell – Peggy Carter
Jenny Agutter – Councilwoman Hawley
Bernard White – Councilman Singh
Dale Coffman – Councilman Rockwell
Chin Han – Councilman Yen
Georges St-Pierre – Batroc