Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Struggling to fully assimilate into the modern world after spending decades in a state of suspended animation, Captain Steve Rogers must quickly learn to identify a new array of more subtle and insidious threats. After SHIELD Director Nick Fury is viciously hunted down by an incessant, ruthless assassin, Rogers refuses to trust anyone at SHIELD for fear that someone within the organization was involved in Fury’s attack. Labeled a traitor, Captain America, with the help of Black Widow and new ally, Falcon, must identify and eliminate this clandestine enemy before his imminent and menacing plans come to fruition.
Co-directors/brothers Anthony and Joe Russo do a fantastic job creating a movie that stands alone and thoroughly entertains without the need of seeing any of the previous films. While some familiarity helps, I daresay that even movie-goers with no knowledge of the Captain America mythology will be able to infer and pick up on how the story got to this point. Relying less on overwhelming CGI, The Winter Soldier’s true strength is a smart, well-crafted script that remains tension-packed and enigmatic throughout. That’s not to say the film’s action sequences are any less impressive. Battle scenes between Captain America and The Winter Soldier are intensive and punishingly fierce, and the film’s climactic ending puts recent comic book efforts like Man of Steel to shame.
Chris Evans, who in the past seemed to get more praise for his All-American good looks than his acting skills, appears finally to be coming into his own. Evans flawlessly exemplifies the wholesome candor and idealistic beliefs of Captain America. It’s hard to imagine anyone else filling the character’s shoes any better. Impeccably aiding Evans’ efforts on screen, Scarlett Johansson’s sultry, irreverent portrayal of Black Widow adds the perfect combination of badass action with a touch of biting humor. While both felt slightly underutilized and overshadowed in the previous Avengers film, here, they make a smoldering partnership that truly carries this absorbing action thriller.
With an opening weekend of $96 million, the box office domination from the Marvel Universe continues with this latest franchise installment. Some have expressed fatigue with the sudden influx of superhero films in recent years. If you happen to fall into that category, my recommendation is to simply accept comic book movies as just another film genre like horror or musicals. The same way some just can’t appreciate westerns, comic book films are not going to be for everybody, and that’s okay. But with Marvel’s recent announcement that they have film projects lined up through 2028, it’s quite clear that super hero movies aren’t going away anytime soon.
Admittedly, I personally went into The Winter Soldier a bit skeptical and leery. But I can honestly say that the high praise being thrown around is every bit warranted. While full of intense, high action CGI, what makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier so enjoyable to watch is the dark, well-crafted, conspiracy storyline that keeps you hooked all the way to the end. Marvel Studios is certainly on the front line of this ever-expanding genre of action films, and like The Avengers, The Winter Soldier has yet again raised the bar of expectations for this new genre of films.-JL