Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

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Oh my. Last year saw a phenomenal instalment in the Iron Man series of films and a cross-dimensional adventure in Thor 2: The Dark World, but now it’s time for the first big Marvel flick of 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Captain America (Chris Evans) has already shown his face in the surprisingly awesome Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011 as well as the Captain America of the present day in Avengers Assemble, but now it’s time to see his post-Avengers adventures in an action-packed political thriller.

And without a hint of over-exaggeration, it’s probably the best Marvel flick so far.

Two years after the events of New York, Steve Rogers is working for S.H.I.E.L.D., doing cloak and dagger missions such as hostage rescue, and generally protecting the public. The formula is shaken up, however, when conspiracy and paranoia kick in, leading to many hesitations in who one can trust when guns start turning on Captain America.

Captain America The Winter Soldier (Steve Rodgers and Black Widow)He isn’t alone, though, for Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has his back, even when events might jeopardise her identity, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) feels Rogers is the one man he can trust – even though Cap might not agree on Fury’s ethics.

Newcomers include Robert Redford playing Alexander Price – a friend and ally of Fury’s from way back in his days of duty – and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, just a normal human soldier without powers who does his best keeping up with Captain America under the call sign Falcon.

Returning is Sebastian Stan, who plays the titular Winter Soldier this time around. His character is a ruthless, mysterious antagonist, who threatens the lives of everyone he comes across – though his ties are a lot more personal towards Captain America.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is many films in one. It’s once again a post-Avengers film that does well to develop the titular hero further, while also being the perfect sequel to The First Avenger. It’s also a tense political thriller with a lot of relevant and resonating themes. The film is also a brilliantly put-together action flick, at times even feeling like a superpowered Rocky IV. Which is a compliment.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo understand this film. They hit all manner of beats, from the drama to the emotion to the comedy to the action. Marvel have once again picked the right director(s) for the right film. The Russos – who have also directed episodes of sleeper hit US sitcom Community – on face value seem a curious choice, but looking at their filmography and then watching even the first ten minutes of The Winter Soldier cement their place as some of the best directors around.

Even the few sneak peaks you might have seen online or in theatres don’t cover it. It has some of the best action Marvel have ever put to screen. You get such a sense of how powerful Captain America really is, whether that be how fast he runs, how far he kicks people, or how hard he throws his shield into people and objects. There is a true sense of power this time around that we never really got before from Captain America.

Captain America The Winter Soldier (Batroc and Captain America)It’s just so brilliantly shot and cut, too. Wide angles are such a welcome thing. Not so much shaky-cam here, Captain America: The Winter Soldier wants you to see how fantastic the action is. Fist-fights, gunfights, car chases, everything you see gets the blood pumping and puts you at the edge of your seat, hooked and excited.

Captain America isn’t the only one in the spotlight here. It’s as if everyone has received a promotion. There’s a crowning moment of awesome for everyone, including Black Widow, Nick Fury, Falcon, and maybe even a person or two you wouldn’t suspect. The ante is raised so much in this film, one has to wonder how The Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to contain these characters plus Iron Man, Thor, and such.

The film is such an engaging piece of cinema. Not just with the action, but with the comedy, the character, and the general plot. It really nails this specific and effective tone: part 70s-political thriller, part-80s Hollywood/martial arts flick. Whether this will translate over to Age of Ultron or if we have to wait until 2016 for the no-doubt mind-blowing follow-up sequel, it has yet to be seen, but for now…Captain America: The Winter Soldier is worth your money.

All expectations were exceeded tenfold. Guardians of the Galaxy better raise the stakes too. Because The Winter Soldier might be one of the best comic book movies, period.

And goddamn, stay for the mid-credits scene. Your reaction to it will go from 0 to 100mph in a few moments.

The after-credits scene, however, is not worth the wait. Much like Thor 2: The Dark World’s was.

I wouldn’t blame you if you did stay, though. You need that time to soak in the glory of what you’ve just watched.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in cinemas across the country March 26th 2014. It stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, and more, is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, and is written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

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