Captain America: the Winter Soldier is one of the best Marvel studios works so far. All the elements of the film are strong; the script, the action, and the direction. Not one element lets down the others, making an enjoyable and even film.
Perhaps the movie’s most successful achievement is showcasing the true height of Cap’s potential. His physicality as the best soldier on the planet is on full display here; we get plenty of action scenes showing us the inventive ways in which Cap combines his physical prowess and his indestructible shield. Cap comes across as noble, but dangerous on the battlefield, which is fun to watch. The film portrays him as a kind of Jason Bourne on steroids (actually that’s basically what he is).
At the heart of the story is a timely debate about freedom vs. security, one which plays to Cap’s strengths as the impossibly noble protector, who now must decide what he stands for in this modern world. The film takes a clear side on the issue, and makes a strong case for why a hero as seemingly simple as Cap is still important today. The story moves along at a good pace, providing genuinely high stakes. There are a few moments where the plot borders on being convoluted, but for the most part it’s focused and worthwhile.
The film gives us quite a few enemies to fear and respect, gleefully bucking the trend of forgettable Marvel villains. Obviously there’s The Winter Soldier, a mysterious assassin with terminator-like determination (and sometimes durability). He’s as interesting to watch on screen as he is horrible to encounter for our protagonists. But along with him, Frank Grillo also makes an impression as Brock Rumlow (the future Crossbones for all you comic-savvy individuals). He is essentially a glorified mook, but a very capable one, who forces the audience to respect even the lesser bad guys in this tale.
This is still a relatively minor weak spot in a film that consistently brought its A-game.
The movie also manages to shake up the Marvel universe like no movie has done in a long time. I’m curious how these events will ripple throughout the extended Marvel universe.
Special mention must go to the makeup/prosthetics department. The wounds in the film look particularly good; a few times after a character has received medical attention we can see the stitches holding together their once gaping wound. That’s attention to detail!
Captain America: the Winter Soldier is a great time at the movies, one of the best movies Marvel studios has to offer, and an exciting reminder that nine movies and half a tv season into the MCU, Marvel is still coming up with fresh stories.
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