As the superhero franchise grows ever stronger at the box office, we are now deep into Marvel’s ‘Phase 2’ of cinematic monopolization following the success of ‘Avengers Assemble’, ‘Iron Man 3’ and the somewhat success of ‘Thor: The Dark World’. But now, our attention is drawn to Captain America, and as usual, Marvel delivers with an entertaining film filled with pulsating action and stunning set pieces.
‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ picks up some time after the events of ‘Avengers Assemble’ as we are thrown into an intriguing plot of political conspiracies, deception and intense action. Chris Evans returns as the ‘ultra-buff’ Captain America, and this time he’s joined by returning cast member Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov (AKA Black Widow), and also newcomer Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (AKA The Falcon). Samuel L. Jackson also returns as S.H.I.E.L.D boss Nick Fury, but at the top of the pile, there’s Robert Redford as the evil Alexander Pierce who is attempting to launch a chilling merging of worldwide surveillance and drone warfare, an idea that is perhaps reminiscent of ‘Minority Report’.
The storyline itself is extremely engaging; the fusion of modern day political issues (the controversy of mass surveillance) and superheroes is an intriguing one, and certainly works well. However, like most Marvel outings, strong performances are lacking (an exception would be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man). Chris Evans is a prime example of this, he comes across as almost a bit of a wet flannel, his traditional patriotism is of course a welcome asset for any superhero, but Evans’ performance is dull, and like in its predecessor and in ‘Avengers Assemble’, it lacks any real emotional range, he pretty much dissipates into the background when he’s not throwing his shield around at criminals.
As the film is set after the events of the Avengers, all of these superheroes are surely now the best of friends? So you do have to ask yourself, what was Iron Man, or the Hulk up to that was so important to not be able to lend a hand to Captain America? There are various scenes where their help would have been a Godsend, and it certainly would have cut down the film’s 2 hour 16 minute run-time. Having said that, the 136-minute screen time never overstays its welcome, and never drags thanks to its blend of relentless action sequences and plot developments.
Although Chris Evans’ Captain America will never really obtain the dominant screen presence that his superhero counterparts possess, the Russo brothers really have delivered a film that has exceeded most expectations, and is arguably the best Marvel outing since ‘Avengers Assemble’. For any Marvel devotee, like myself, this film is highly recommended, and only seeing it on the big screen will do it true justice.