Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
Anthony and Joe Russo come roaring out of TV series such as Community and Happy Endings with the newest film in the Avengers Phase 2 series, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Considered an unlikely choice, the Russo’s have delivered an unforgettable instalment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with a well-crafted film that’s big on both action and character.
Comic book writer Ed Brubaker delivered the story for The Winter Soldier tapping into various plot elements from the world of Marvel comics, his synopsis was then developed into the screenplay by MCU writing regular’s Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus. The writing behind the film delivers both a big action spectacular without comprising on solid character development and progression. Couple this with thematic topics that are both interesting and relevant throughout the film and you have something shaping up to be quite brilliant.
Here we find Steve Rogers picking up where we left him following the Avengers still trying to reconcile himself with the modern world which finds itself reacting to the trauma following the Chitauri invasion of New York. Alongside Rogers is Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff and the rest of SHIELD and we’re finally able to see these characters fleshed out further but without the film becoming too distracted from its main story.
It’s great to see the character development here remaining consistent with not only Captain America: The First Avenger, but the other MCU films while still finding room to introduce new characters in an organic manner. Additionally The Winter Soldier gives us a new and interesting villain and one that finally gives Loki some competition. Here we are given a villain with a dramatic backstory, and a sense of both tragedy and mystery that draws in the audience proving highly effective in the film. My only criticism is that this particular character was underutilised with some missed opportunity to really draw out the drama of his relationship with the lead.
The writers have tapped into the wider MCU utilising elements raised before with good effect and a great payoff and let no one say Marvel are too timid to really turn things upside down in the MCU. Captain America: The Winter Soldier contains events that will have ramifications across the entire MCU, it’s just a shame we’ll probably have to wait a while longer to really see the impact.
Thematically we see exploration of the concepts of freedoms vs control grounded firmly in the MCU but with relevance in the world we live in, and while choosing not to become too bogged down by this the Russo’s mix it in amongst the sheer entertainment value to give the film more substance than it otherwise would carry.
The pacing is well managed with entertaining action sequences throughout the film, providing a blend of small scale fight scenes and larger set pieces the action is kept fresh and gives various characters not only moments to shine but opportunities to revel in the spotlight a little longer than in a larger ensemble film.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson appear comfortable in their characters and with more screen time both manage to articulate more subtleties in their performances than previously seen. It’s great to see such attention to detail showing through with certain mannerisms and facial expressions reflecting mood and reaction to dialogue at times as much as any verbal delivery of lines could.
Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie also turn in strong performances, with Mackie having less to work off in the script. The casting of Redford was a great choice, not only is he always engaging on screen but it upholds Marvel’s ongoing approach and commitment to the series to be one of seriousness and quality as they continue to bring in great performers one after another across all these films.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a mix of character driven scenes, macro story, entertaining action, and a little humour and intrigue thrown in for good measure. It introduces one of the most chilling, thrilling and unforgettable villains of the Marvel series and stands solid both on its own and as part of the Avengers universe at large.
This is an engaging, entertaining film that is not to be missed, I’m giving it eight out of ten stars and you can catch it in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 3rd April 2014.