Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Trust, betrayal and good ole-fashioned right and wrong lie at the heart of Marvel's latest offering.
April 06, 2014
There are neither aliens nor gods to be found in the latest instalment of the seemingly unstoppable Marvel movie franchise. Instead, this is an 'enemy within' offering, and it's very much the better for it.
Captain America (Chris Evans) is the Avenger in question this time round, and for a movie about the perils of extra-governmental espionage and unregulated oversight, there could be no more suitable a hero than that unfailingly honest idealist Captain Rogers.
In The Winter Soldier, Cap finds himself contemplating a life beyond the military, only to be drawn deep back inside the shadowy organisation S.H.I.E.L.D following an assassination attempt on his boss, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). With the story's many twists and turns, it's risky to disclose much more, but at its heart this is a film about trust, betrayal and (inevitably) good ole-fashioned right and wrong.
Fitting, then, that his holiness the pope of '70s plot-based paranoia, Robert Redford, makes an appearance as S.H.I.E.L.D's chairman Alexander Pierce. It's difficult in any film not to get excited whenever Redford embarks upon one of his trademark disquisitions on the state of democracy, freedom or peace, and in The Winter Soldier you get the full-blown triple play. Joining him in the mix are S.H.I.E.L.D regulars Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders), as well as the instantly appealing newcomer 'Falcon' (Anthony Mackie).
Inevitably, a superhero movie with a budget as big as its leading man's pecs is going to feature the periodic sensory onslaught of explosions, car chases, plane chases and carplane chases to keep the blockbuster fans satiated. The highlights in The Winter Soldier, however, are the smaller-scale, human melees, because let's be honest — Cap's superpowers aren't all that super ("Fitter than the average man, more honest than Abe Lincoln, Chris Evans is...the Truthy Runner"). As a result, his action sequences require more imagination on the part of the writers than they might for, say, Iron Man, and where the team most often delivers is in all the creative ways Cap uses his iconic shield, both in defence and on offence.
Not quite as witty as Whedon's Avengers yet more engaging than Thor 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier offers a darker and more thoughtful superhero story than most, if not all, of its Marvel predecessors.