I am The Captain now
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is directed by the Russo brothers: Anthony and Joe Russo, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Again, I feel the need to comment on the rather perplexing nature of the title that is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Whereas you can see what The First Avenger was going for, the same cannot be said for this second installment in the now Captain America MCU trilogy. Actually, there's only one word in the that title that doesn't align with anything that happens during the film, and the word I of course am referring to is the word winter. It is no kind of spoiler to mention that there is not a single moment during Captain America: The Winter Soldier's 136 minutes that takes place during a furious blizzard or on top of a snowy mountain peak. The movie instead looks like it's taking place in the midst of a nice, cool summer season.
But anyway, back to that whole winter business, which is actually a nice segue for me to go about discussing the plot. Two years after the events of the first Avengers film, the 95 going on 30 Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is adjusting to modern day civilian life, trying to catch up with all of the history and neat parts of culture that he missed out on while frozen in Alaska. Rogers works in Washington D.C. for the government espionage agency named S.H.I.E.L.D under director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). The film's first 15-20 minutes is dedicated to a rescue mission by Rogers and crew on a S.H.I.E.L.D ship, in which Rogers discovers that data on the ship is being extracted for Fury. Rogers learns later from Fury that the data is part of something called Project Insight, where three massive Helicarrier crafts are linked to satellites and used to eliminate potential threats. Fury is unable to decrypt the data, leading to him being ambushed by a group of assailants led by the masked Winter Soldier. As Rogers becomes more involved with what is going on with Fury and Project Insight, he finds out that something is amiss within S.H.I.E.L.D.
And what about the titular Winter Soldier? Without giving too much away, we find out that he is another super-soldier who was an experiment for Hydra during World War II. He has a bionic arm and can fight in a fashion similar to that of Captain America. As for why he is called The Winter Soldier, I believe it has something to do with the fact that the Soldier was founded and revived by a Russian patrol group, and we usually like to associate things involving snow and winter with the normally cold and blustery Russia. That's the best explanation I can possibly find, but it's one I have little to no confidence in whatsoever.
This was my second time seeing Winter Soldier, long after my first viewing which came while the movie was in theaters. I was both surprised and disappointed about how dispirited I was upon watching it again, especially considering how fun and uplifting that the first one was. This is a movie that attempts to give the MCU a more mature edge with a plot mostly focusing on political espionage and not just watching our hero grow and take down an evil baddie. We can be thankful that this is far from a repeat of the first film, and I can't say that I don't at least appreciate The Winter Soldier's attempt at being more serious and realistic. One alarming problem that becomes evident about three quarters through the film is how the titular Winter Soldier is reduced to an afterthought, having no choice but to take a backseat to the film's attempts at being a suspenseful spy flick. We spend the majority of the time watching Steve Rogers and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) run about attempting to uncover things going wrong within S.H.I.E.L.D with the Winter Soldier having only two (count 'em two) meaningful appearances before a fight scene and the busy CGI fueled boom-athon that are the film's third act.
- This is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't believe I'm saying this when I say that there were no significant high points to speak of. There was nothing overly special about the visuals or the acting, and I normally find myself giving praise to at least one of those two for a superhero film. The humor is reduced to a few chuckle-worthy lines. Understandable for this film's tone, though still a rarity during a day at the office for the MCU.
- The story is quite complicated, being presented like a heavily-layered political thriller that just happens to involve superheroes. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely seem to lose track of the various plot threads as the film progresses, as the holes and confusion just continue to pile up. In an attempt to bury said holes and confusion, the movie bombards you with noise, explosions, and guns in a typical CGI-action finale that doesn't offer much stimulation or legitimate excitement. All I'm trying to say is that the story means well, but is too complicated for its own good.
Where my relationship with Captain America: The Winter Soldier goes from here is anyone's guess. At its absolute best, the movie is a tense and smartly plotted political thriller that easily ranks as one of the MCU's best. In reality, it barely finds a way to offer you something slightly above decent. You have your fist fights, your guns, and your usual after credits things that, of course, serve up hype for the next installment. I'm not saying that I now dislike Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It has the shiny and vibrant look of any usual blockbuster superhero action flick, but anyone would tell you that you need more than sunshine to make your film a full, memorable treat. What I am saying is that I dislike it the more and more that I think about it. Its story doesn't work the way it should, and by the time the titular villain has something to contribute, it's already too late for the film to redeem itself. And here I always thought the MCU's jokey attitude would always be my pleasure killer when watching their films.
Recommend? If you can see it cheap or for free, then I'd say go for it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: