Joseph Austin reviews the latest film from Marvel’s comic book universe.
The never-ending and tedious CGI climaxes of both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World left some of us weary eyed and slightly exhausted by all things Marvel.
But Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s more measured approach is this comic book canon’s saving grace.
Full of suspense, politically engaged and edging more towards spy thriller than superhero spectacle, this Captain America sequel is a refreshing entrant into the Marvel film universe.
Returning to the screen for the first time since The Avengers, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (Chris Evans) struggles to come to terms with his place in society two years on from the events surrounding New York and his timely defrosting.
Times have changed since 1945.
Frozen for almost 70 years and missing out on The Beatles, Star Wars and disco to name a few, Rogers’ new world paints an even murkier political picture than the Nazi Germany one he was recently thawed out from.
But now with a billionaire tin man, a Norse god and a scientist with really serious anger issues all on speed dial (assuming Cap knows how to use a mobile), there’s a lot for Steve Rogers to get used to in this new world.
Under orders from SHIELD (the high-tech and above the law intelligence organisation) and its director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Cap and co-Avenger Natasha Romanov AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are sent on a mission to rescue hostages from a pirate-hijacked SHIELD ship.
However, after learning of Black Widow’s secret mission to recover ‘stolen’ SHIELD data, Cap begins to question the organisation’s true intentions.
Confronting Fury, Rogers discovers that SHIELD’s idea of freedom (three fully-loaded and highly weaponised helicarriers with the ability to eliminate threats anywhere in the globe) differs to that of our star-spangled soldier’s.
“This isn’t freedom. This is fear”, states a rather sturdy and ever patriotic Rogers.
This is perhaps the film’s biggest surprise. It’s political awareness.
And it’s a pleasant one.
It adds weight to a storyline otherwise hindered by its minor plot holes and unnecessarily long action sequences.
But don’t let this deter you. Anthony and Joe Russo’s movie is well thought-out and brilliantly executed.
As the plot unravels we go deeper into the spy-game and all the players feature heavily.
Chris Evans’ Cap is as bland as ever (as would you be if you were on ice for more than half a century), still maintaining the air of an average Joe.
And Samuel L Jackson is again spot on as the eye patch-wearing Nick Fury.
Even the mysterious Winter Soldier, whose identity remains one of the worst kept secrets in Captain America history, turns out a decent action-filled performance.
Yet it’s the Black Widow who really shines.
Scarlett Johansson’s third outing as the Russian-turned-American superspy is her best yet, perhaps gaining enough attention to warrant the character’s own spin-off feature.
Whether you’re an off-the-cuff cinemagoer or a comic book buff, Captain America: The Winter Soldier sits surprisingly near the summit of Mt Marvel, as well as being a thoroughly entertaining action thriller.