Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/ Captain America
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow
Sebastian Stan - Bucky Barnes/ Winter Soldier
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/ Falcon
Cobie Smulders - Maria Hill
Frank Grillo - Brock Rumlow
Emily VanCamp - Agent 13
Robert Redford - Alexander Pierce
Genre - Action/Adventure/Thriller/Comic Books
Running Time - 136 Minutes
After the events of THE AVENGERS, Captain America (Chris Evans) - now a member of SHIELD - struggles with adjusting to his life in a very modern world. As Cap becomes somewhat disillusioned by the current world, SHIELD begins to crumble when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is almost killed by a mysterious assassin named The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). With the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a soldier named Sam Wilson [codenamed Falcon] (Anthony Mackie), Captain America plans to save the world from the Winter Soldier and those possibly closest to him.
Due to a pretty hectic weekend, I was unable to share my thoughts on what was my most anticipated film of 2014 - CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. I've made it no secret how much I enjoyed 2011's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER and 2012's THE AVENGERS, so I was definitely excited about the sequel. Plus, it is based on one of the best Captain America stories surrounding The Winter Soldier, an arc that changed Captain America's world forever. And just like that comic arc, the film adaptation changes Cap's world as well - in one of the best ways possible. Yes, it's nice to see a comic book sequel again that's better than the film that preceded it.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is a comic book film that's actually smart and serious, despite the colorful characters and the special effects. Joe and Anthony Russo's direction is top notch. Who knew the two men behind YOU, ME, AND DUPREE would direct one of the best comic book films ever? The action is fantastic, with epic car chases, huge explosions, a really cool air battle, and fight choreography that looked and felt brutal. Honestly, this felt less like a superhero movie and more like your standard action flick, which I didn't mind at all. There was a gravitas when it came to the fights and action, which was a great move to set Captain America apart from the other solo Avengers films.
I think the best part about CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER has to be the screenplay. While there are some lighthearted moments, the sequel really takes itself seriously when it comes to its narrative. In a lot of ways, the film felt like a commentary on our current political landscape, making us question how much freedom really costs for all of us. Captain America is seen as a boring character because he doesn't have cool superpowers and is
presented as a boy scout. But I've always been a fan of Steve Rogers because he's a character raised by old school methods, unwillingly stuck in a modern world where these methods don't have a place anymore. He questions this new society, upset when his fellow SHIELD members use methods that he feels are negative. It's also quite sad when he feels alone when he's walking through the Smithsonian, where an exhibit for him is placed; or when he visits a much older Peggy Carter at a hospital. Cap also teams with people who are morally suspect, like Black Widow and Nick Fury, never sure if they're giving him the truth or not. He doesn't know how and who to trust in this new world, which makes Captain America an interesting character who gives opinions that are presented as unique.
It's also great that Captain America has a great villain [not named Red Skull] in The Winter Soldier. He's like the Terminator, just causing chaos in Captain America's world. He has a great look, doesn't talk all that much, and has a personal connection to Captain America. It's hard not to spoil much about the character for those who have never read the comics, but I enjoyed how he was presented in the film. We learn enough about him and his struggle, while keeping enough stuff hidden for a later movie. I wish there was a bit more of him honestly, but I loved the live-action depiction of the character and how it'll effect Cap's world for films to come.
The acting was also solid. Chris Evans really proves he was the right choice to play Captain America, anchoring the film with his sincerity and charisma. Scarlett Johansson has never been better as the Black Widow, sharing great screen chemistry with Evans, as well as kicking ass and looking good in her black suit. I'd really love to see her in a spinoff film. Sebastian Stan was cool as The Winter Soldier. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury. Robert Redford was a fantastic choice as Alexander Pierce, especially since the film was obviously inspired by political thrillers from the 1970s [which Redford acted in a few at the time]. Anthony Mackie was great as the Falcon, who I hope to see in a bigger role in a later sequel. I thought everyone was super and couldn't ask for a better cast.
THE FINAL HOWL