“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Excites Without Ever Fully Warming Up

Captain America is back for another adventure after the Avengers’ struggle in the Battle of New York. This time there’s bad eggs inside S.H.I.E.L.D and Rogers has to team up with Agent Romanoff to get to the bottom of it.

Captain America The Winter Soldier, Poster, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson,Quickly becoming Marvel’s man for the more seasoned fan, Captain America is a superhero franchise willing to add some careful thought to its unreserved carnage. Fittingly, having been preserved in ice for decades, the character is of advanced years himself, and appears here in a film that not only draws its inspiration from the golden hued conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s but even features one of their key components in Hollywood veteran Robert Redford. Yet despite an overload of exposition having the distinct stench of overcooked intricacy, Captain America can consider himself one of the “President’s Men” after another job well done.

The film takes place a couple of years after the events of The Avengers and the epic “Battle of New York” when the Captain aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) teamed up with Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the gang to battle megalomaniacal Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Our hero appears to have no ill effects from the fight, content with his job helping espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and its director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in saving the world from its evil tormentors.

However, in a recent mission to rescue hostages from a shipping vessel apprehended by Georges Batroc, Captain America is more than a little miffed to find out ally Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) had a secret mission to extract information from the ship’s computer. Troubled that he isn’t privy to the intelligence grab, things take a turn for the mysterious when Fury is assassinated. Luckily, Fury is able to deliver a flash drive to Rogers containing important information that could save S.H.I.E.L.D., while shedding light on a potentially lethal uprising within its own ranks.

With an abundance of fast-paced action, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is never going to turn away its core audience but it works best in its fleeting moments of investigative whodunit as Rogers and Romanoff, alongside newcomer USAF pararescueman Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), piece together the what, where, who and why. The “why” is clearly more important than the “who” as the Winter Soldier himself arrives to spoil the party. With his souped-up metallic arm and unwavering conviction, he’s more than a match for Captain America but unfortunately the character is far too underdeveloped to add nuance to the threat. There’s more interest in the overarching evil that comes in the form of an old enemy – one that Rogers knows better than anyone.

Captain America The Winter Soldier, Poster, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson,

Captain America’s story fails to move forward in this instalment (which is perhaps the film’s biggest flaw), so while it serves its purpose to titillate and tantalise, The Winter Soldier is content to leave us out in the cold until the next chapter.

However, while the film’s endeavours to develop a more subtle menace in the form of unscrupulous individuals at the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. are worthy of commendation, the Winter Soldier’s paper-thin characterisation (and an interesting but ultimately unrewarding subplot involving his past) hamper the film’s overall appeal.

Certainly, the emergence of Captain America’s new friend Sam Wilson – the flying Falcon – makes for some brilliant aerial action-adventure, while Romanoff and Rogers form a fearsome, super-powered double-act. For me, I would rather have seen more fish-out-of-water humour as Captain America comes to terms with his modern lifestyle instead of the schoolyard romantic matchmaking (which feels oddly out of place), but there’s chemistry of more than one kind between actors Johansson and Evans that’s nothing less than a delight to see.

You can be assured there is more to come from this franchise and while this effort is a worthy, at times exciting, addition to the modern Marvel canon, there is a feeling “more” might mean “better” in future. Indeed, Captain America’s story fails to move forward in this instalment (which is perhaps the film’s biggest flaw), so while it serves its purpose to titillate and tantalise, The Winter Soldier is content to leave us out in the cold until the next chapter.

THREE Stars - Captain America Winter Soldier

Written by Daniel Stephens

Captain America The Winter Soldier, Poster, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson,Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson
Released: 2014 / Genre: Comic Book / Superhero / Action / Country: USA / IMDB
More reviews: Latest | Archive
About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Ryan Pollard Reply

    I thought Winter Soldier was 3/5 as well. It had some great moments, it’s well-mounted, and I always love Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. However, the Winter Soldier storyline is never properly developed, but most of all, it concentrates too much on action rather than narrative. With Joss Whedon’s Avengers, both were equally balanced, but here it ignores its own subject matter (surveillance, espionage and the collapse of organisations from within) to make way for action stuff. It’s like they saved all that stuff for the Agents of SHIELD TV series rather than the main film itself. Plus, it’s a tad long. Guardians of the Galaxy is better.

  2. Avatar
    Derek Armstrong Reply

    Great review. I expected more from Captain America:The Winter Soldier but, while enjoyable in parts, I didn’t get the character development I was seeking. Like Ryan says, too much action, not enough consideration for story.

  3. Avatar
    Evan Crean Reply

    A well-balanced review. This was a picture that slipped through the cracks for me this year and I’m disappointed that I missed it because I’ve heard a lot of positive things. Even if it doesn’t get everything right, it sounds like a pretty decent spy flick. I’m sure I’ll see it at some point in the next couple of weeks.

  4. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Sorry? The destruction of SHIELD and you thought it didn’t movie Cap’s story forward?

    Methinks somebody….. slept through that bit?

    Personally, I think it’s one of the best Marvel films (alongside GOTG) overall, and definitely one of the best films of 2014.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      …and you wouldn’t be alone in thinking it’s one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films thus far. For me, Captain America is one of my favourite characters and one of the most interesting superheroes but like Avengers, HIS story takes a back seat to what’s going on around. In Avengers I felt he was a tad one-dimensional and stuck in the shadow of Iron Man (and to a certain extent Thor’s “added interest” in the story given it was his brother causing the uproar).

      In Winter Soldier, aside from a number of other flaws (notably the under-written characterisation of the Winter Soldier himself – ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake only stinks of sequel-bating to me) the problem is perhaps highlighted by what you say – the “destruction” of SHIELD. Again, that’s SHIELD’s story not Rogers’ story. He’s a part of it but he’s also a fish out of water, a 1940s citizen in a world of Iphones and the internet. They touch on this like it’s an after-thought. That disappointed me a bit.

      That said, I still think it’s a good film. Better than the Hulk, the first Thor entry and possibly Iron Man 2. But, dare I say it, Thor 2 was better than Captain America in 2014!

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