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Movie Review: Captain America, The Winter Soldier

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Cary, NC — Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, start to finish, the best Marvel movie yet.

Filled with great action, well defined characters, and a lead performance by Chris Evans that has officially brought this man out of time into the present without sacrificing everything that makes this super soldier from the 1940s so special.

Suspicions Arise

Set after the events of The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds our hero working regularly for S.H.I.E.L.D leader Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Little by little, the Captain becomes more suspicious of the missions he’s assigned. Fearing that the country he once fought for in WWII is no longer fighting to protect its freedom and instead choosing to illicit fear as way of order. Soon the Captain, AKA Steve Rogers, is forced on the run while trying to find out who, and why, someone is trying to take over S.H.I.E.L.D.

Redford Cameo

Where the Captain’s first solo movie, subtitled The First Avenger, had a WWII adventure feel to it, The Winter Soldier has a 1970s conspiracy thriller vibe going on. Its fitting then, that they even get screen legend Robert Redford ( All the Presidents Men, Three Days of the Condor) as S.H.I.E.L.D head honcho, Alexander Pierce.

Confident and Fun Filmmaking

It’s interesting how Marvel is really starting to distinguish these solo films apart from one another now. Before The Avengers, the goal was to lay the groundwork of this shared universe, and it took 5 movies to do so. Now, nine films in, there is a confidence and even a little swagger to the Marvel films. Even if you didn’t like Thor, Iron Man, or the first Captain America, you probably loved The Avengers, and Marvel knows it.

Even better though is that Marvel is really able to capitalize on the idea of the sequel thanks to this shared universe. The Winter Soldier works so well because of the history we already have with the character. Steve has quite an emotional journey in the film, most of which comes directly from plot lines starting in The First Avenger. The movie works great as a standalone film, but it also opens story lines and themes that will be carried directly into The Avengers sequel next year and even the next solo Captain adventure after that.

It’s a particularly exciting way of storytelling that Marvel is excelling at right now.

Evans and Cast Are Great

Chris Evans IS Steve Rogers at this point, similar in the way that Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. Pretty much everyone in this Marvel universe has been cast perfectly, but Evans in particular stands out. He has that unwavering boy scout good nature down pat, and he brings at least a mountains worth of charisma and humor to the role. Also, the dude is ridiculously jacked so he handles the action scenes like nobody’s business.

The rest of the cast do just as good work too. Scarlett Johansson returns as fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff, and she has an easy chemistry with Evans. In fact, the few scenes with just her and Evans talking about his love life and other non important matters are among the funniest the movie.

Sam Jackson finally gets a legitimate action scene as Nick Fury in The Winter Soldier, as well as bringing that authoritarian attitude he does so well. And Anthony Mackie ( The Hurt Locker) joins the team as Sam Wilson, AKA The Falcon. Everyone gets their moment in the movie, both personal and action wise, and it’s a testament to the filmmakers for allowing these good actors to do what they do best.

Special mention has to be made of the films directors, Anthony and Joe Russo. Best known for their work on TV comedies Community and Arrested Development, the Russos help nurture the sense of humor and fun these movies are known for, but they also prove to have a keen eye for action. All the big moments are well thought out and staged, more so than any previous Marvel film before it, The Avengers excluded. And their focus on the conspiracy filled plot helps make the stakes feel real and dangerous, while never forgetting that these movies are FUN above all else.

Captain America: See It, And See It Big!

The character of Captain America has quickly become my favorite in this series of superhero films. Never changing in an ever changing world, Steve does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. And thanks to a great performance from Chris Evans and an exciting, action filled story, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is quickly becoming my favorite Marvel film. So please, do yourself a favor and see it on the big screen. Captains orders.

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Jordan Hunt covers the movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.