[Slah Film: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review: A Game-Changer For the Marvel Cinematic Universe]Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a big movie. Big in scope, dense in story, and pivotal to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. It continues the story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), also known as Captain America, as he begins to return to “normal” life after saving the world with some friends in The Avengers. He’s joined by fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a solider turned friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and a slew of others including, but not limited to, characters played by Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo, Georges St. Pierre, Cobie Smulders and Hayley Atwell. Like I said, it’s a big movie.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo do a solid job of molding all these moving parts into a story that, for the most part, makes sense. But even when the story gets a little too complicated and the exposition a bit too wordy, it’s quickly saved by its entertaining action and continual narrative twists. Many of these will change everything you thought you knew about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I’m not just talking about the two credits scenes. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fun, worthy, if slightly bulky entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As the story begins, Rogers is beginning to question the authority of S.H.I.E.L.D. The events of The Avengers have changed how the agency operates and Rogers isn’t quite sure if this is how he wants to spend the life he so luckily gets to live. This emerging internal struggle is incredibly interesting and complex, but is quickly side-stepped when Rogers’ worst fears come to pass. The action is necessary to get the plot moving, but slightly disappointing because these internal issues are pushed away for the story.
To describe the story in almost any detail beyond that would be considered a spoiler by anyone who would care. I’ll say it continually keeps you guessing, interested, and maybe even scratching your head a bit while looking at how it all fits together. It works, make no mistake, but at times the film – which runs 136 minutes – does go a tad too heavy on the plot.
That plot is, of course, punctuated with action scenes, and really good ones at that. The Russos talked a bunch about The Raid before release and you see the influence of that film in the hard-hitting fights. There’s a lot of hand to hand combat in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in addition to tons of gunplay, aerial battles, and car chases. The Russos — working from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – have created a widely varied action film. One downside to that action is that, as this is the Russos’ first movie of this scope, it doesn’t always flow as well as you’d hope. Again, a minor gripe.
All the returning actors — Evans, Johansson, Stan, Jackson etc. — are better in this film than they’ve been in any previous Marvel movie. That’s likely a result of each getting increasingly comfortable in this expanding universe. Out of the new additions, though, Anthony Mackie is far and away the standout. His Falcon is exhilarating, both as a hero and human, and Mackie brings humor and gravitas to the role.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an ideal middle chapter in a larger story. The performances are charismatic, the story is surprising, and the action exciting. Plot wise, there’s some complex stuff going on ,which you’ll definitely need a conversation or two to get straight. When that happens though, you’ll be on pins and needles to see what it all means for everything Marvel moving ahead. There are some problems, but even acknowledging those, it’s hard not to fall in love with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
/Film rating 7.5 out of 10 Slah Film
[The Wrap:‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review: Superheroic, Yes, But Smart and Subversive Too]A hero who's literally wrapped in the flag must come to terms with the Age of the NSA, in a film that asks some big questions in between stirring fight scenes
(Spoiler Alert: It is nearly impossible to discuss in any detail the merits of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” without giving away a few plot details — which counts as an impressive achievement in and of itself since we're dealing with a superhero movie. Such details are kept to a minimum in this review, but if you prefer not to know any, stop reading now.)
In one of the many Paddy Chayefsky-penned monologues in “Network” that still resonate today, Peter Finch's newsman Howard Beale rails against one of television's dramatic shortcomings: “We'll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We'll tell you that Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any s–t you want to hear.”
This isn't always the case nowadays, of course; groundbreaking series from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “The Wire” to “Game of Thrones” presented worlds in which even beloved characters could suddenly die without warning. And if a character from “Mad Men” threatens to decamp for another agency, the show doesn't contrive to make him or her have a change of heart by the end of the episode.
Still, in any serialized drama, the norm is to offer the threat of change or imbalance before quickly reverting to the status quo. That's the kind of safety net that can creep into movie franchises as well. In the cinematic Disney-Marvel universe, for instance, SHIELD is always the good guy and HYDRA is always the villain and superheroes have a clear-cut moral agenda with no wiggle room for the complications of the real world.
Until now, that is. With “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the corporations behind one of the most lucrative series in contemporary cinema dare to step outside of their safety zone, not only tossing the building blocks of a film and television canon up in the air but also using a mainstream entertainment to ask provocative questions about our own government and about the compromises that we are willing to make in a technological world where privacy is rapidly disappearing around us.
That screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (“Thor: The Dark World”), working from a story by comic book writer Ed Brubaker, and directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo could ask these kinds of questions in an “Avengers” film would be achievement enough, but to bring them up in a Captain America movie feels downright subversive.
Ultimately, of course, this sequel isn't a treatise about geopolitics as much as it's a movie where a ripped guy throws a shield in people's faces, but it does all the things it's supposed to do very well. If you're just here to watch Cap (Chris Evans) beat up a bunch of well-trained tough guys in a tiny elevator, you'll get that in spades, but if you prefer superhero movies that allow themselves to run a gamut wider than A to B, there's that as well.
We find Captain America still adjusting to life in modern-day Washington, D.C., after decades in suspended animation, getting music recommendations from a new friend, veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and fending off matchmaking suggestions from the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). After Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends the Captain and the Widow to rescue a SHIELD ship that has been taken hostage, and Cap discovers that the Black Widow has a side agenda involving data in the ship's computers, the shield-slinger gets angry with his boss about being kept in the dark.
Fury and Cap have an argument early on about trusting people, and while you're expecting that a movie like this would end with Fury learning he needs to open up and have faith in his fellow man, it's actually Captain America who discovers that not all things are as they seem, and that even those who wear the colors of democracy and liberty might be in disguise.
Fury's boss in the state department, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), is the film's major new character, so it's not a big surprise when he winds up being the turncoat who's behind turning SHIELD's domestic surveillance program into a deadly bit of social engineering. And given Redford's past participation in classics like “All the President's Men” and “The Three Days of the Condor,” who better to be part of a vast, paranoia-inducing conspiracy within the U.S. government?
With Fury being taken off the chessboard early on, it's up to Captain America, Black Widow and Sam — whom comics readers know as The Falcon, brought to the screen in a thrilling way — to uncover just what's going on and how to stop it. (Marvel fans will also get a kick out of the inclusion of characters like Jasper Sitwell and Batroc, although their screen incarnations differ greatly from their four-color versions.)
Along the way, Cap will discover that while SHIELD and HYDRA might have different mission statements, both groups’ desire for control over their perceived enemies and the muscle they employ to get what they want make them more similar than different.
Also read: ‘Captain America 2' Sets ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ in Motion, Bob Iger Says
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — the title refers to a deadly HYDRA assassin (played by Sebastian Stan) whose true identity is a secret even to himself — bounds along excitingly, keeping viewers guessing, launching some successful switcheroos and bringing real stakes to the game. The end results of this film should reverberate throughout the big- and small-screen “Avengers” universe in a way that most franchise entries would never dare.
The first “Captain America” had a lot of great ideas, but its vacillation in tone and occasional failures to deliver the emotions for which it was clearly aiming made it one of the lesser recent Marvel movies. This time around, however, it's a movie that's raising the bar on what we can expect from the ongoing adventures of these men and women in tights.The Wrap
[Variety:The perils of global diplomacy, and the difficulty of being an old-fashioned guy in a new-fashioned world, weigh heavily on Marvel's defrosted superhero in his surprisingly equal second solo outing.]The Rip Van Winkle of superheroes goes rogue in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” an impressively equal sequel to 2011’s superb origin story “Captain America: The First Avenger” that trades the earlier film’s apple-pie Americana for the uneasy mood of a 1970s paranoia thriller — a resonance underscored by the casting of “Three Days of the Condor” and “All the President’s Men” star Robert Redford in a prominent supporting role. Chockfull of the breathless cliffhangers dictated by the genre, but equally rich in the quiet, tender character moments that made the first film unique among recent Marvel fare, “The Winter Soldier” marks a generally assured return to features for sibling helmers Anthony and Joe Russo (who’ve been in a moviemaking deep-freeze since 2002’s “Welcome to Collinwood”) and should easily keep the franchise gravy train powering through to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” due next May.
Notwithstanding the magical serum that first transformed 90-pound weakling Steve Rogers into his strapping, spandexed alter ego — and that pesky Tesseract that has caused so much trouble all over the Marvel universe — both “Captain America” pics have stayed largely grounded in the real world and a sense of real-world politics. In “The First Avenger,” that meant pitting Rogers against the band of power-mad uber-Nazis known as Hydra. Here, it means bringing him face to face with an even more sinister foe: the American military-industrial complex. Taking inspiration from such hot-button topics as drone warfare, NSA spying and Wikileaks-style secret sharing, the screenplay by returning writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is smart but never didactic about situating “The Winter Soldier” in a world where those on both sides of the political aisle have done much to compromise basic human freedoms in the name of defending them.
Gazing out over our nation’s capital with smug, Rumsfeldian authority from a perch high in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Redford’s Alexander Pierce is the very embodiment of the might-makes-right defense ethos succinctly summarized by the good Capt. Rogers as “holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection.” And what guns! Pierce’s top-secret Project Insight consists of three state-of-the-art drone-like “helicarriers” — commissioned in the wake of the intergalactic battle royale that nearly leveled New York in “The Avengers” — whose long-range weaponry can neutralize threats from a safe, airborne remove. They can even, we’re told, analyze date from personal and public records to identify potential hostiles before they materialize. But hostile to whom exactly?
The trouble begins when venerable S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), depicted as being an old friend of Pierce’s, expresses concerns about Insight’s readiness to launch and asks for a delay. Pierce obliges, but almost as quickly Fury finds himself on the wrong end of a hair-raising car chase through the streets of downtown D.C. that leaves him just shy of dead. Fury sits most of the rest of the movie out, but not before instructing Rogers in the first rule of all conspiracy movies: “Don’t trust anyone.”
From there, “The Winter Soldier” is off and running — after all, what paranoia thriller worth its salt doesn’t involve a lot of running, hairsbreadth escapes, improvised disguises, apparent allies who turn out to be foes, and vice versa? Fury’s words to the contrary, Rogers finds that he can trust at least two people: the dangerous-limbed ex-KGB agent and Fury protege Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and former Army paratrooper Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who, like Rogers, lost his wingman in the war zone. At seemingly every turn, this intrepid trio find themselves assailed by the eponymous Winter Soldier, a lethal assassin with a silvery robotic arm and a half-century’s worth of kills on his resume, even if he doesn’t look a day older than Rogers. Though the true identity of this masked man won’t come as a surprise to even the most casual fans of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s “Captain America” comics, the film does a nice job of winking knowingly at the series faithful while keeping neophytes on the hook until the climactic reveal.
Suffice to say that the past comes back to haunt in more ways than one in “The Winter Soldier.” Where “The Avengers” couldn’t seem to find time to ponder the disorientation the newly defrosted Rogers would surely feel upon re-entering the world, this movie does, particularly when Rogers tours his own elaborate Smithsonian exhibit and reunites with erstwhile lady love Peggy Carter (a touching Hayley Atwell). And in a sly running gag, Rogers tries to catch himself up on 70 years of missed pop culture, with choice shout-outs to Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” album and that Reagan-era espionage classic, “WarGames.”
Evans is once again very appealing in the lead — perhaps even more so this time because the character has been given more dimensions. The aw-shucks “kid from Brooklyn” is now a man with his feet in today but his head still very much in yesterday, and Evans excels at showing us the melancholy soul beneath the gleaming Pepsodent smile. Johansson similarly brings a real wistfulness to Natasha — she, too, is dogged by her past, only where Rogers is still living in his, she’d like nothing more than to forget hers. The biggest surprise, however, is Redford, who has rarely taken supporting roles, and who plays Pierce to oily perfection. He seems to be having a blast blasting ICBM-sized holes in his well-worn persona of the unimpeachable liberal crusader.
It’s to the credit of the Russos that they give the characters such room to breathe in a movie that easily might have been about rushing from one gargantuan setpiece to the next. Indeed, the directors (who have spent the last dozen years honing their craft in episodic TV) don’t seem entirely comfortable yet on the large-scale action canvas, and their penchant for shooting action with a nervous handheld camera and fidgety, hyperkinetic editing rhythms makes one pine for “The First Avenger” with its beautifully rendered comicbook framings. They’re best at the small, close-in stuff, like a wonderful elevator melee in which Rogers lays waste to a dozen or so opponents between penthouse and lobby. But the movie’s extended climax, in which the helicarriers move into position and threaten to wreak their vengeance, often descends into a whiplash-inducing blur.
Though “The Winter Soldier” lacks the special period luster of “The First Avenger,” craft contributions are generally topnotch, especially the sharp D.C. location shooting of d.p. Trent Opaloch (“District 9, “Elysium”) and Henry Jackman’s rousing, propulsive score (incorporating bits of Alan Silvestri’s “First Avenger” fanfare). Sci-fi geeks of a certain age will get a special kick out of seeing “Logan’s Run” ingenue Jenny Agutter reprising her brief “Avengers” role as a member of the U.N.-ish “World Security Council,” and busting out some highly impressive karate moves to boot. Variety
And you can read THR's review from here
Another IndieWire review
plus you wanna watch that Cap 3 vs BvS video because it was damn funny