Monday, April 7, 2014

[Review] Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, our hero is welcomed into the 21st century with chaos. This new Marvel adventure packs on the expected action, but the story firmly hinges on real world issues, making it equal parts conspiracy thriller, relevant commentary on surveillance in the digital age, and a plight for defending freedom.

Winter Soldier's plot is incredibly expansive, but it ultimately revolves around Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) uniting with fellow agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and new friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in order to take down HYDRA, an internal corruption operating within the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. HYDRA has a mysteriously masked assassin and extraordinary powerful warrior on their side, known as The Winter Soldier. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, and Robert Redford plays a villain with a politically savvy demeanor. The story piles on the twists; it's a game of who's who and a question of where to place your trust (if there is anywhere).

The action scenes and special visual effects are top-notch, delivering some intensely choreographed setpieces. Whether it's a spy mission, a shootout, a chase, or some good old fashioned hand-to-hand combat (usually all in one sequence), it all feels so purposely crafted due to the constantly crucial stakes and turns, rendering it more than just pure spectacle. Or in other words, it's not just a high volume of explosions and incomprehensible shit flying around on screen.

The emotional roots that the first Captain America film planted emerge here, greatly enhancing all that's taken place. And the flashbacks and callbacks add some sweet nostalgia, while simultaneously complicating the way you'll view the predecessor. There also are plenty of well-timed comedic relief moments sprinkled throughout, and the witty exchanges between Rogers and Romanoff never fail to amuse.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier might be the most well-balanced and strongly executed entry into the Marvel movie catalog, to date.


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