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Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriter(s): Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson
Marvel Studios | Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG-13 | 136 Minutes
Release Date: April 4, 2014

If Captain America: The First Avenger is a ’40s wartime movie serial, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a ’70s political thriller in the vein of films like Three Days of the Condor and All the President’s Men.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Arrested Development, Community), Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up two years after the events of The Avengers. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) lives in Washington, D.C. where he continues to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. A man in the wrong time, he struggles to adapt to contemporary society.

After meeting and befriending war veteran and PTSD counsellor Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) on a morning jog around the Capitol, Rogers is called in to help save a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Algerian pirates led by Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre) aka Batroc the Leaper.

Aboard, he discovers fellow agent Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) extracting data from the ship’s computers, making him question whether he should trust the top-secret spy agency. At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces Rogers to Operation: Insight, a network of spy satellites designed to preemptively eliminate threats.

Enter the film’s titular villain, the Winter Soldier – a mysterious assassin with a metal arm who exhibits the same abilities as Captain America. As the Winter Soldier begins to dismantle S.H.I.E.L.D from the inside-out, Steve Rogers is caught up in a web of intrigue and mystery that threatens to put the entire world at risk.

The Russos have knocked it out of the park on this one. The Winter Soldier is a fantastic sequel and the best film to come out of Marvel Studios. There’s an intricate, multi-layered narrative filled with mystery and political intrigue and plenty of brain-rattling action sequences, but the most impressive thing about The Winter Soldier is the attention to character.

The Winter Soldier isn’t just a Captain America movie – it’s a S.H.I.E.L.D movie, with equal attention given to Nick Fury and Black Widow. Jackson and Johansson have popped up in numerous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this is the first time we’re allowed to see the depth of their characters. There’s a great scene where Fury has a heart-to-heart with Rogers and tells an anecdotal story about his grandfather. You realize Fury is a real person with a real past, not just a one-eyed super-spy with swagger.

The Russos go to great lengths to humanize Earth’s mightiest heroes by showing us their weak spots. They bleed – their bones break – and they’re far too trusting. Fury, Widow, Cap, and Falcon (Mackie’s superhero alter-ego) are deceived by S.H.I.E.L.D. They’re enemies of the state, and in a world of false faces and ulterior motives, we begin to understand the real strength of the Avengers: trust.

“The price of freedom is high… and it’s a price I’m willing to pay.” The events of The Winter Soldier completely alter our heroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The aftermath of this film will carry into Avengers: Age of Ultron and echo throughout the next phase of Marvel films.

Robert Downey Jr. makes a great Tony Stark, and Tom Hiddleston is a fantastic Loki, but Chris Evans IS Steve Rogers. Evans embodies Captain America’s ideals so completely that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the star-spangled hero.

Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger was my favorite Phase One film. When Evans – as a scrawny, pre-serum Rogers – dives on a grenade to protect his brothers in arms, I knew Marvel had the right guy for the job. It’s so thrilling – and satisfying – to see his Rogers struggling with how much the world has changed since his time, and how he refuses to give in to the cynicism and fear-mongering of modern America.

It’s easy to get burnt out on superhero flicks and big-budget blockbusters – so many of them are uninspired, soulless spectacles – but when they’re done right, they can be the most awe-inspiring and exhilarating of theatrical experiences. I’m pleased to say The Winter Soldier delivers a consistently intriguing story with strong characters and some of the most striking action sequences I’ve seen from this genre.

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