Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Standing head and shoulders above the competition, Marvel’s latest big screen offering is nothing short of spectacular. Gone are the wacky sitcom jokes of Iron Man 3 and the aimless clichés of Thor: The Dark World.

For once we’ve got a Marvel film that isn’t afraid to take itself seriously, that is all at once fun, funny and relevant, all without aping the styles of “gritty” comic book adaptations like The Dark Knight Rises. In a world of comic book heroes clogging our screens, Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t afraid to do something new.

The plot finds America’s favorite Avenger, Steve Rodgers, grappling with his new role as an agent of a government he once loved, but now doesn’t recognize. He finds a friend in Sam Wilson, an Iraq War veteran, played in a star-making role by Anthony Mackie, and a tentative ally in Natasha Romanoff, who is once again granted maturity and gravitas by the criminally underrated Scarlett Johanssen.

Rodgers discovers a plan concocted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) to cover the world in automatic surveillance aircraft capable of eliminating targets instantly. This, coupled with the sudden appearance of a mysterious assassin known only as “The Winter Soldier”, causes Rodgers’ already unstable world to be thrown into chaos once again.

The film has its moments of levity, but it resists the heavy-handed “fish out of water” jokes of the Thor films or the sarcasm of the Iron Man trilogy.

Rodgers is smart, and he’s been doing his homework. His alienation from the modern world is a source of real drama as much as it is for chuckles.

A heartbreaking cameo by original love interest Hayley Atwell as the elderly Peggy Carter establishes this as a film with real human characters and high emotional stakes.

It indulges in CGI swash-buckling escapism to be sure, but the depth of these characters makes the stakes all the higher. The cast is also deserving of commendation. Chris Evans exhibits fantastic skill as the titular hero, giving him just the right combination of weariness and optimistic naiveté.

As mentioned before, Anthony Mackie will no doubt take his rightful place as a fan favorite amongst Marvel’s extensive supporting cast. He offers much of the film’s humor, but he never devolves into mere “comic relief”, and he gets plenty of chances to prove his value as a soldier.

Likewise, Johanssen’s Romanoff offers inklings of flirtatious wit, but it never overcomes her integral nature to the film’s story. She is not eye candy, nor a prize to be won. She is very much a part of Rodgers’ world, but she has her own goals to accomplish, her own fears to overcome.


Rounding out the cast are film legends Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson, who duke it out with such intensity that you can’t help but be enthralled.

Merely seeing these two share a screen is enough to give any film-lover their money’s worth, but never let it be said these Oscar nominees are slumming it.

Jackson and Redford bring their considerable talents to bear in every scene. It’s a master class in screen acting.

We’ve become accustomed to fantastic special effects in our blockbusters, and in this regard Winter Soldier does not disappoint. Even more impressive, however, is the evocative fight choreography.

Skillfully shot gunfights and hand-to-hand combat scenes offer the film a kinetic energy, with each unique character sporting a unique fighting style. Romanoff is acrobatic and flexible, the Winter Soldier is fast and brutal, and practical Nick Fury lets his gadgetry to the work.

It’s among the most thrilling fight work since the Bourne films, always keeping you unsure who will come out of the next tussle battered and scarred. It’s nice to see a film that doesn’t rely solely on green screens and motion capture to give its audience a thrill.

Having said all that, the film is a tad long, especially at its climax, which stretches over at least half an hour. While never boring, some of its louder, heavier fights could use a trim. Also, there’s an abundance of handheld camera shots that make some of the fight scenes hard to follow.


This evens out towards the middle of the film but returns again for the climax, where it sometimes dissolves the constant explosions, violence, and shouting matches into a blur.

It’s not as bad as some other recent Hollywood fare like the first Hunger Games film or the aforementioned Bourne films, but it can be frustrating, especially when there’s so much fantastic fight choreography you’re trying to enjoy.

Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier does so much right it’s easy to forgive a few transgressions and clichés.

Fans of Marvel’s cinematic offerings will be ecstatic, as will the uninitiated cinema-goer just looking for some good thrills. If Marvel’s upcoming deluge of adaptations are as good as Winter Soldier, audiences are going to be very happy for years to come.