Captain America may have been engineered as the World’s greatest solider, but he’s also a man with scruples and morals, he fights for the greatest good. What will he do when all he fights for is called into question? My review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier after the jump.
Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans) is trying to fit into the new world. He’s befriended a fellow jogger and war veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and has thrown himself head-first into his work for S.H.I.E.L.D. Alongside Natasha, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) he fights for the agency against the evil in the world. When the extraction of sensitive information by Natasha on a hostage mission causes Steve to question S.H.I.E.L.D’s motives, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces him to Operation Insight, the creation of a system which can locate and destroy potential threats. Fury questions matters surrounding Operation Insight and suddenly his life and the lives of those loyal to him are in danger. Almost without warning our heroes are being branded enemies and everything S.H.I.E.L.D supposedly stands for is in question. To make a bad situation worse, a legendary “ghost assassin” known as The Winter Soldier is on the scene and he doesn’t know how to play nice.
What Winter Soldier wants you to consider, is the concept of freedom by fear. Do we really have freedom if that freedom is maintained by a constant threat? In an age where we are constantly questioning how close the government monitors us and breaches of privacy for the sake of “freedom” seem to happen on an all too regular basis, Winter Soldier is surprisingly topical and on point. Steve Rogers is all for fighting to protect our freedom, but not at the expense of innocent lives. Winter Soldier forces him to apply his somewhat old-fashioned morals and beliefs to the 21st century. While not as funny as Iron Man 3, there are some amusing gags about adjusting to modern life. The notepad in which he lists things to catch up on (which has been slightly altered for different regions to include region-specific cultural icons) was a nice touch.
Winter Soldier moves along at a cracking pace, cramming a fairly complicated and detailed plot into its 136 minute running time. The film is packed with action scenes, creating real momentum and intensity. However, it was the way that these action scenes were filmed which significantly reduced my enjoyment of the film overall. Much of the action was filmed at close-range, the frames extremely crowded and busy, leaving little empty space or background. While close-filmed action does create a visceral film, it is also very hard to watch, particularly when the camera is moving as frantically as the action. At times it felt like scenes were being filmed from a camera strapped to the wrist of someone who was mimicking the actors. The frenetic action was extremely draining to watch and tested my eyes. I saw the film in 3D which may have not helped, but I believe it was the way it was filmed rather than the [unnecessary and forgettable post-production] 3D which was responsible for the diminished viewing experience.
Chris Evans seems to have grown into the role of Captain America, exuding far more confidence in this performance, particularly in the action scenes. My favourite addition to the cast was Anthony Mackie and war veteran Sam Wilson. Mackie has a charisma and an ease in his own skin and his character’s brighter disposition is a nice count-balance to Evan’s more solemn Captain America. I liked the Black Widow’s involvement, but give the girl her own movie already! Johansson’s character has a mysterious and dark background which offers so many options for her own story-lines. It will be interesting to see the direction in which Marvel moves from here, as Winter Soldier has altered the landscape for future developments.
Oh and as always, stay for the credits.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Writer(s): Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (screenplay)
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie
Runtime: 136 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: April 3 2014; USA: April 4 2014