Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

This world is full of spies, traitors, lies, and secrets. Some say that all these components are necessary, in order to keep world peace and ensure the safety of the citizens of the world. At what point, though, is there too much surveillance and too many precautionary measures taken? Will all of these preemptive measures really keep us safe, or will they strip us of our freedom? The people in charge seem to be so one-track-minded and the people they’re “protecting” are left to wonder what’s to come of the world they know. In the digital age, no information can be kept secret for long and no one is safe.

Captain America and Black Widow talk strategy.

Captain America and Black Widow talk strategy.

After the events of The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken many precautions to keep the world safe and to neutralize any threats before they arise. Captain America (Chris Evans) is working full-time for S.H.I.E.L.D. now and he and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are essentially the cleanup crew for anything bad that happens. After sweeping up a cargo ship and recovering a data stick, some secrets are revealed about the organization and Captain America doesn’t know who to trust. As it’s revealed to him, Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Secretary Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) have commissioned three new helicarriers that will take out any threats in the world. The Captain sees this as the organization using fear to scare the world into peace and he won’t stand for it.

Unfortunately for Captain America, he’s still the man out of time. He’s trying to catch up on all the time he’s missed and he even visits his own museum to learn about himself and what he did. When he learns too much about S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America needs to go on the run with Black Widow and his new buddy, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). With the world they know crumbling around them, they uncover the truth behind S.H.I.E.L.D. and make it their mission to stop the evil doings going on. With a combination of old-school tactics and new-age technology, the three go after the newly compromised organization and are met with many challenges along the way, including the infamous Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), an assassin who’s been supposedly killing for over 50 years. He’s equally matched with Captain America and his motives remain unknown. The safety of the public lies in the balance of the heroes and it’s then versus the most advanced organization on the planet. Easy, right?

Nick Fury explains to Captain America S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plan to neutralize threats.

Nick Fury explains to Captain America S.H.I.E.L.D.’s plan to neutralize threats.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is by far and away the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film that I’ve ever seen and I absolutely loved every second of it. Not only does it have the best story of any of the MCU films, but the action and spy aspects of the film elevate it above the rest. The sequences where Captain America recounts his past and is trying to adapt to current times are all fantastic and his banter with Nick Fury, Black Widow, and The Falcon is hilarious. This movie is the perfect popcorn flick and it’s actually a really amazing movie too. I couldn’t wait to talk about this film and when I think back on it, there’s not a thing that I would change. Man, I loved this film and I can’t wait to see it multiple times.

The standout aspect of this film, for me, was the incredible acting by all of the characters. Chris Evans plays the most respectful and conflicted Captain America and he nails everything he does. He’s out-of-place in this world, yet he still cares about the people in it and does what he can to stay true to his beliefs. He totally kicks ass and he’s also bigger than he was in The Avengers. Accompanying his awesome performance, is Johansson who adds more depth to her Russian character with a dark past. She’s more fragile and still just as smarmy. Her flirtatious interactions with Evans are so much fun to watch and she too, kicks major ass in a stylistic fashion. Samuel L. Jackson is toned down in his performance and he even gets some backstory. He’s still intimidating and in charge, but he feels more human here and he feels fear at times. Anthony Mackie is a wise cracking sidekick to Evans and the two go back-and-forth, but Mackie is also a soldier who lost it all. This adds relatability his character for Evans and the two are a great team. Veteran actor Robert Redford is fine in his role, though he’s given as much to do as Sebastian. They don’t get much detail, but they’re both very effective when they need to be. Everyone works well together and makes this film a blast.

The Winter Soldier prepares for battle.

The Winter Soldier prepares for battle.

The action in this film is another marvel (haha), as it bests the action in every Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and even Avengers movie. Every punch, shield hit, and gunshot makes a viewable impact that resonates well with audiences. Captain American tosses his shield and knocks bad guys over, rams them with his shield and sends them flying, and punches them until their bones break. Black Widow gets a lot of cool acrobatic stunts that will make your jaw drop. The guns are the least interesting bit of the action, but they’re still loud and powerful. Every fight scene avoids the shaky-cam effect and you get a clear shot as to what’s really going down (usually bad guys). Many of the fights left me in awe and I was constantly thrilled when I saw Captain America kicking people’s chests and sending them into a brick wall.

Captain America, by far, has the best storyline of the other Avengers, as he’s not from the same time. He’s got catching up to do, but he still lives partially in the past. His story is very sincere and allows him to exist in more ways than one, which appeals to people emotionally. The scene when he walks around his own exhibit at the Smithsonian is really touching and he gets an idea of the impact he had on the world, but also recounts all the people he loved who are now gone. There are other moments that make light of his situation and they’re completely hilarious. Everytime there’s some new technology he has to deal with, he’s often unsure of how to use it and those moments set up some great jokes. As a person, he’s searching to find out who he really is, but he still embodies all that’s good and truthful in this world. He’s the classiest of acts.

Captain America and The Falcon head off to fight.

Captain America and The Falcon head off to fight.

As for the feel of this film, there’s a heavy spy theme to it that works beautifully. Given that Captain America is a soldier, this allows his stories so much more than those of his team members. There’s a stealth mission that will really blow you away in the beginning and the element of surprise is always the move that the Captain makes. As he and Black Widow go undercover to figure out what’s really going on inside of S.H.I.E.L.D., they have to play things safe and smart and it’s a lot of fun to watch them navigate situations stealthfully.  The story is so complete and intricate, that it doesn’t feel like a comic book film. The great thing about Captain America is that he’s a soldier and he doesn’t need all the gadgetry to win fights and kick ass (they are an added bonus though).

There is so much praise for this film and I’m just happy to be a part of the chorus. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most diverse film in the MCU and it clearly stands above the rest. The story is unique, the characters are well-rounded, the action is top-notch, and everything adds up into the best film that Marvel has released in years. This film is easily re-watchable and it’s one that should set a president for other Marvel films to come. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo have implemented a lot of great things into Captain America’s latest outing and it’s clear that they know what they’re doing. Everyone should be flocking to go see this movie and then should line up for a second viewing. It’s that good. Make sure to stick around after the credits, as it should be obvious that Marvel loves to tease their next films. Until then, bring on Captain America 3!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer

5 STARS!!!

5 / 5 stars     

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