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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – A Movie Review

This time we got a very entertaining action movie about America's favorite superhero: Captain America, and his fight against Hydra, a somewhat esoteric terrorist organization with the unmoving mission to take over the world, and impose a New Order.

However, this Captain America is more than punches and pretty faces. It's a honest reflection about freedom in the face of difficult times.

“When Captain America throws...” how it goes?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) is a really interesting movie, not because it has something to do with the lore of the Marvel Universe, or its ties with the next Avengers movie. It really goes beyond its entertainment mission.

Steve Rogers is not just a regular soldier, who does what he is ordered to do. He is worried about how everything turned out after the World War II was won, while he was trapped in his ice prison. But, it is not that he doesn't like the music, hate smartphones, or despises the way people dress in this new futuristic society, in which he woke up. No, he abhors the lack of freedom, specially after all the sacrifices that he, and his brave men accomplished. After the death of thousands of fellow Americans, including his best friend Bucky, the United States weren't more free after all. Did they die in vain? Did Bucky? At the same time S.H.I.E.L.D., a very secretive military branch, was infiltrated by the enemies of freedom. Nick Fury suspects that something very wrong is going on with the organization, and tries to uncover the truth to no avail. Mr. Fury advices our hero to not trust anyone. But, if he can't then, how can he do something to fix the situation?

This is the premise of Winter Soldier, a second installment in the Captain America series, and part of this big framework that revolves around the Avengers Universe.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier unveils the ethos of our own time, forcing us to think, whether we live in fact in a more free society, or we just think we are, being thus part of a rather cynical system.

upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_6_60_captain_america_the_winter_soldier_cast_by_gage_skidmore.jpg
Captain America: The Winter Soldier's cast at San Diego Comic Con 2013. Picture by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0 1)

“I'm so fired!”

The movie itself has not any formal problems, showing us the latest in Hollywood's special effects, the vibrant notes in action movies' music, and the most prettiest, handsome, and sexy actors that the film market can offer. The package glitters and entices you to unwrap it: The movie is designed to be a blockbuster.

The acting in general shows some ambivalence, though, and it is not quite good overall. We have Chris Evans (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Steve Rogers/Captain America with some good moments on screen, showing us what he is capable of, and not only making things to explode, or saving distracted citizens of steel-falling pieces. Chris is really a good actor, but for these kind of roles, he doesn't need to do more than smiling, and giving weird looks to the villains, and that's a waste in my opinion. However, he had more than enough time to shine lightly in front of the camera with some good speeches, and a provocative acting. Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon, Lost in Translation) on the other hand, was a little bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong, she looks stunning like always, but we are used to a more solid acting, and I think she can deliver more than just sexy poses. Sebastian Stan (Hot Tub Time Machine, Black Swan) as the Winter Soldier, a man without a past, and used like a weapon by Hydra, was maybe the worst of the movie. He is not bad actor in general, and have some experience doing movies and TV shows, however, and probably due to this character, he doesn't portray much deepness more than a villain's cliché. But that's ok, because I'm sure we will probably watch more of his acting skills in future roles, and why not, in future Captain America sequels.

The best acting in the movie was without a doubt Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) as Nick Fury, and Robert Redford (All the President's Men, Out of Africa) as Alex Pierce. Samuel Jackson interprets a weary Nick Fury, trying to reveal the truth behind Project Insight. He makes great chemistry with almost any actor on screen, demonstrating thus his brilliant talent, and even rescuing some scenes from oblivion, in which some of his co-stars don't seem so committed like he is. On the other hand, Robert Redford gives a mastery class in acting as he always does. I don't want to spoil you his character, so I won't tell you much of what he does, or he is, but I'm only going to tell you that watching him interacting with Samuel L. Jackson is a bliss.

It is worth mentioning some supporting roles from Emily Van Camp (Everwood, Revenge), and Frank Grillo (Minority Report, Zero Dark Thirty) as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives, and Anthony Mackie (Million Dollar Baby, 8 Mile) as Falcon, and Captain America's friend. There are some interesting cameos of Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, The Avengers), Hayley Atwell (The Duchess, All Is by My Side), and well… Stan Lee of course.

The music from Henry Jackman (Captain Phillips,Wreck-It Ralph) works like a functional piece of action. It is well performed, but is not the same as Alan Silvestri's work from the First Avenger. The whole score feels mostly like background music, so you probably won't notice it, but the good thing is it doesn't stay in the way of the movie. However, I would have wished a more memorable score.

The direction of Anthony and Joe Russo (You, Me and Dupree,Welcome to Collinwood) makes this movie something different indeed. I was not expecting anything bad, or good to be honest, because it is basically an action movie. Nevertheless, and thanks to the script, this movie turned out more than explosions, and chasing cars around the city. The directors made a fine job with the action sequences, and squeezed the best from actors of the size of Jackson and Redford. Still, they need more experience to manage actors like Evans or Johansson.

In Conclusion

This is a movie that will please fanatics and casual viewers for equal. It has lots of action, good looking actors, good acting to some extent, although, not so solid as wished, and incredible special effects. Captain America speaks not only to his fanboys, it expresses the anguishes of our time without being jingoistic despite his name. It's a really good movie stuffed with tons of subtle details for Marvel fans, without disappointing those, who just want to have a nice afternoon in cinema. If you are going to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I really recommend you to stay until the end of the whole movie credits, so you can see the two-ending scenes.

Disclaimer

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References:
1) Skidmore, Gage (July 20th 2013). The cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International in San Diego, California. (Uploaded by Gage) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)], undefined. Picture Available On-line in http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier_cast_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg

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