CAPTAIN AMERICA: The Winter Soldier
Comic book adaptation/ sequel
Cast: Chris Evans , Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L Jackson and Robert Redford
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Neither is ‘he’ the one that goes green with anger and bam bam with rage, nor is he the smart alec in an iron suit. He is no ‘god’ either. Yet, the old timer, Captain America stands tall in the comic world, with his unwavering ideals and values even as he finds himself ever adjusting to the modern world around him.
But that popularity and USP may not have really translated well from the comic pages onto the screen. Especially with the other solo-films being more popular franchises, it was certainly a challenge to get Captain America up and running. In the times of CGI profligacy that defines modern day superhero features, certainly Steve Rogers pales in comparison. Unless you give brownie points for his good chiseled looks.
Yet staying true to your character eventually pays off, and it certainly does in the case of Steve Rogers. With CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINDER SOLDIER, the folks at Disney-Marvel have indeed come up with a fitting solo film that will have the modern audience rooting for the old fashioned man.
And to achieve this feat the makers stick to the basics and plays to the strengths. They never try to pitch Captain America as one of those formidable super strengths. They keep things grounded and instead play things down by a ‘conspiracy thriller’ playbook than resorting to a superhero manual. Hence be ready to witness more shades of a Bourne thriller here than the average Avenger bash ‘em up.
The events takes place two years after the ‘Avengers’ storyline and Steve Rogers is still the man S.H.I.E.L.D runs to when it wants to get the job done. The film opens with a standard ‘search and rescue’ operation when one of the organization’s ships gets taken over by pirates. Cap America is joined on the mission by Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow as well, but she has a different set of mission objectives from Nick Fury.
This gets Steve suspicious of S.H.I.E.L.D’s intent and even confronts Nick Fury on it. However Nick Fury is quick to dispel all notions that Rogers may have and reveals what he really is working on – Operation INSIGHT. Rogers is certainly not a fan of this new far fetched project and its implications, but Fury assures him that this is necessary to maintain world order.
But Fury too senses that all cannot be right. So he informs the S.H.I.E.L.D top chief and his good buddy, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) to delay the launch of INSIGHT while he gets to the bottom of certain things.
However this does not go well with some folks at S.H.I.E.L.D, and Fury realizes that he is now being targeted. Things only get worse when they unleash an assassin – ‘The Winter Soldier’ on him. Eventually the cold-blooded assassin strikes the chief down, but not before Fury managing to pay a visit to Rogers and handing him an important piece of information.
But now with Nick Fury gone, Steve Rogers is unsure where he can find loyalty and support. Well aware that S.H.I.E.L.D has been compromised and with everyone after his life, Steve Rogers have to stay ahead of his foes and set things right.
I very much enjoyed its thriller-esque avatar for most of the running time. It is only in the third and final act, the mandatory over the top finale, that the odds are stacked up too much against our hero and company, that one would feel that the only way out is to have the entire Avengers gang come in and put a stop to this global catastrophe. And this is also the part where you realize that Marvel is merely coaxing us into believing that they are going dark and bolder with its approach when in reality they are just pulling some of the old tricks all over again. As a result, the interest diminishes once all the cards have been neatly laid out. As long as the twists and turns come, it is fine enough. Not that they are unpredictable but it works neatly into the narration. Yet you realize that this one is a good twenty minutes too long.
But until then you do have a great ride with great characters and actors filling in their shoes. Scarlet Johansson once again shows she means business an not to be messed around with and Anthony Mackie proves to be a fitting side kick , soaring away when given the opportunity. Samuel L Jackson gets a more substantial role this time around but nearly everyone has to step back to the screen presence of Robert Redford. Sebastian Stan also makes his mark and is all set to become a wonderful addition to the Marvel universe. Though this time the screenplay gives ample space to test out the chemistry between Evans and Johansson, the film also introduces Agent 13/ Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) who will go on to become Captain America’s love interest in future editions.
And yet with all these big names, the movie still is a Chris Evans feature. He has certainly managed to hold his ground, fitting the bill perfectly. He charms and punches his way through with equal ease showing there is more to him than just a shield.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo ensure that the story development and characters are given the focus rather than mere CGI spectacles. The CGI is kept to the bare essentials, while the focus here is certainly on character development. And when they really want to get things pumping, they bring in some good ol’ hand to hand combat, car chases and gun fights to keep things engaging. No weird CGI monsters to pay spoil sport. And you do realise what a relief that can be.
And suddenly you realize what a relief that can be.This time the narration does go into darker territories, but they also stay away from the brooding brand of narration like the movie adaptations of the DC comic legends. What they do deliver is a fast paced thriller with enough light humor to keep the audience engaged.
The theme that the plot tackles is also very topical and is easily relatable at these times where one can never be certain on how much of one’s personal info is personal.
All in all, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is a good solid addition to the Marvel cinematic Universe and definitely is gonna earn more admirers for the WWII hero. And this slick, neatly edited and much needed sequel more importantly sets the benchmark for the rest of the big summer titles of the year. And that is pretty high, I must say.
PS: Also you learn with this movie that words like “mutant” can be copyrighted in the movie world. That is why we are introduced to future Avengers – Quicksilver and The Scarlett Witch in the post credit sequence. The Twins, offspring of Magneto, are only referred here as originated being in an ‘age of miracles’ with no reference to the X-Men origins because supposedly Fox Pictures holds all the rights to it.