Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Posted in Reviews by - March 27, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

There are many elements to this superb superhero movie which stand out. The emphasis placed on Chris Carnel’s powerful fight choreography is certainly one of them. Tight, sharp take-downs and crippling knife fights sit alongside flamboyant acts of high-kicking, luxuriously captured in an early bout with a French kickboxer (UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre) and two fights with The Winter Soldier: a bionic, regenerated Soviet assassin with a connection to Captain America’s past. The intensely physical scenes of human pugilism mirror Captain America’s purist persona and background as an old-fashioned war hero. In one scene, he prefers to put down his indestructible shield and go toe-to-toe in a fair fight. Throughout the film he struggles to adapt to the warmongering and fear tactics of the modern political age and yearns for simpler times. This is what makes Captain America so fascinating when compared to the rest of Marvel’s Avengers: his outward jingoism belies a deeper questioning as to the responsibilities of a superpower in the 21st century, and casts doubt over his own position as the uneasy poster boy for US military engagement.

Cryogenically frozen for nearly 70 years, Captain America (played charmingly by Chris Evans) resurfaces in the digital age to face the same brainwashed totalitarian nutters he beat up in the first film. Only this time, the Nazi splinter group Hydra have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. – the government’s elite espionage task force – and made an assassination attempt on their leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). This is where the film turns into a 70s paranoid cop thriller – something almost akin to Serpico – in which Captain America finds himself under fire from his own S.H.I.E.L.D. buddies and unsure who to trust. Great turns from Robert Redford and Scarlett Johansson as the bone-breaking agent Black Widow add to the film’s fun, plus the usual array of CGI-based spectacles: huge underground space ships and a swooping bird-like sidekick called Falcon (Anthony Mackie). But the film is most effective when it comes down to earth, and it stands as one of Marvel’s best attempts at intellectualising the superhero story.

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