Get your head out of the past, man.
After being brought back into the world, only to find out that he’s in a new millennium, where mostly all of his friends, families, confidantes, anyone he’s ever known, is dead, Captain Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) decides to lay low in his nice, cozy life in Washington D.C. He’s made a new friend in the form of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), he stays in shape, he saves the day when it needs saving and hell, he may even start getting busy with that fine-looking nurse neighbor of his (Emily VanCamp). Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well it is, but it doesn’t last. Somehow, he, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a handful of other good-hearted citizens, all end-up involved in a huge conspiracy with the head-honcho of S.H.I.E.L.D., Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), where apparently just about every which person is out to kill them. It’s pretty nerve-wracking as is, but it gets even worse when a certain masked, hired-assassin named the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) starts rolling around town, blowing shit up and trying to kill whoever gets in the way of his targets. But what’s so weird about the Winter Soldier is that he seems to hold a very close resemblance to a man Cap once knew. A man he never thought of to be alive, but somehow, seems to be in the form of this walking, talking hitman.
By now, I think we all know that no superhero movie, let alone a Marvel superhero movie, that doesn’t either consist of more than one main superhero on the same screen, for a longer amount of time than a simple cameo or end-credits scene, is not going to be better than the Avengers. It just won’t. And it’s not because it’s hard to accept these superheros as individuals, with their own battles to overcome, and adventures to journey, but the bar has been raised so high now, it’s just not capable of handling. We have seen mostly all of the best a superhero movie could be, and for that, we are better as a society. May not be better for these stand-alone, superhero movies, but hey, at least we know that Age of Ultron is coming out next year.
So, until then, we have plenty of time to just wait around, kick-up dust and have our time with these stand-alone flicks, in which we get to see most of the same magic, fun and wittiness play-out like the awesome spectacle that was the highest-grossing movie of 2012, but still realize that it’s not quite as magical as we have seen done before. Hate to keep on harping on that, but it’s the truth. It’s just the fact of the matter. Doesn’t make these types of movies bad or anything, just not nearly as great as we have seen before.
But away from that, and more towards the actual film itself: The Winter Soldier is pretty rad. With the other Marvel Phase II movies we got last year with Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3, this one definitely seems to be the darkest, most serious one out of the whole bunch, but that still doesn’t take it away from being fun, if not more so on some occasions. Actually, much rather than being a “fun” type of action-blockbuster, because the suspense and the drama is so heightened this time around, a lot of it begins to just feel “tense” and “exciting”. Sure, there’s plenty of winks, nods, jokes and playful banter we usually see from these types of movies, but there’s still a whole lot more going on here like political-intrigue, mass-destruction of a society, genocide and the media.
Yup, it’s all so very serious and in ways, a lot darker than it should be, however, the movie barely ever misses a note with what it is trying to do; as long as what it is trying to do is be fun, exciting and as loud as it can possibly be. When it begins to shy away from that aspect of the story, you can tell it bites-off a bit more than it can clearly chew. For instance, the first 20 or so minutes of this movie, I had no idea just what the hell was going on. I knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. was clearly up to no good and being as sneaky as they could possibly be, but whatever plot the writers were trying to set-up here, made no absolute sense.
And it wasn’t like it didn’t make any sense because I’m a big dummy (which I am), but because it seemed like the movie itself was just packing itself with so much dense exposition, that it really didn’t seem to want to make sense. The clear synopsis of this plot, and also why there are baddies we hate, and goodies we cheer for, would be that it’s just a simple tale of a company owner not being too happy with his workers, so, as any smart, powerful businessman would do, he decides to have him, his friends, his family, anybody he’s ever loved, killed right away. That’s pretty much the basis for the whole story in a nutshell, however, it not only took me nearly a half-hour to get to that point, but it took the movie even longer as well.
That said, what eventually happens with this movie is that once it decides to stop being so damn melodramatic and confusing, it gets very wild and energetic, but in a good way. It’s strange that we’re getting something that clearly could have been released in the summer and not suffered at all, but hey, who am I to complain about a Marvel movie being released one month before the official start of summer?
Also, why would I complain about getting to see the lovely, delightful faces of such darlings like Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and yes, even Samuel L. Jackson? I’m nobody, that’s who!
Speaking of these cats, as you could expect, they all do fine. Evans shows us more and more reasons why should want to see him play Cap for the rest of all humanity, even when his body’s rotting and deteriorating, while in his late-90’s; Johansson does a lot of that punching, kicking, and pistol-shooting as Black Widow, while also looking extremely well in tight-leather and heating things up with the awfully-flirty chemistry her and Evans build; Mackie is a nice-addition to the cast as Sam Wilson and shows everybody else once again why it is that his bright, and smiling face should be in every movie, ever made; Sebastian Stan does a lot, without doing much, playing the Winter Soldier, but that’s about as much as I’ll say about that; and Samuel L. Jackson, you know, does his thing where he yells, acts like a bad-ass and sets some people into their place as Nick Fury, in a role that’s just Samuel L. Jackson with an eye-patch and a fancy-looking gun. That’s really all he is.
Now, except for the mention of Stan as the Winter Soldier, there’s some new villains here that I think really do work well in this universe, and especially in this movie. Which, yes, means a whole lot when the only, actual villain worth anybody’s time in your universe is the same guy who switches sides more times than Michael Stipe at a music festival. Bad analogy, I know, but if you know rad music, you’ll get it.
Robert Redford is a great addition to the cast as Alexander Pierce, the type of sinister, back-stabbing and ruthless corporate bighead we’d usually see him play-against. Redford doesn’t do movies of this size or stature much too often (hell, he doesn’t even do movies in general), which is why it’s so great to see him show-up here, chew-up the scenery, has some fun being the baddie and get his paycheck like he should. Same goes for grade-A character actor Frank Grillo, who almost never ceases to let me down, even when he shows up in some real crap. Even UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre gets his kicks in (pun intended) as Georges Batroc. Now, if only he’d be able to do the same when it came to getting in the ring with Silva and not being such a chicken-shit, whiny baby, then yeah, maybe I’d have more to say about him. Come on, men! Am I right!?!?
Consensus: One of the more serious entries into the Marvel Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t always know what it wants to do, but when it has its head on straight and just allows the exciting, fun-nature of this material take notice, then it’s definitely worth your time.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!