Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

A taut and engaging sequel that cleverly mixes comic-book sensibility with political-thriller undertones.


When news broke out that 2011's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER director Joe Johnston did not return for the sequel and replaced by Anthony and Joe Russo instead, I felt skeptical at first. After all, we are talking about these directors whose previous directing experiences consisted of *gulp* comedies including 2002's WELCOME TO COLLINWOOD, 2006's YOU, ME AND DUPREE and TV's Community. It's definitely a very odd choice to choose such filmmakers for tackling a blockbuster movie that is seemingly out of their leagues. But upon finally watching the sequel in the cinema, I was really surprised that the Russo brothers are unexpectedly the right choice for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Better yet, this sequel is noticeably more improved than the first movie.
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

In this sequel, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) continues his duty as the S.H.I.E.L.D. team leader who engages on counter-terrorism missions under the direct order of S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). At the beginning of the movie, Rogers and his fellow team members, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) are assigned to rescue the hostages on an S.H.I.E.L.D. ship hijacked by pirates. However, the mission proves to be more than just a mere assignment when Rogers find out that Fury and Romanoff are keeping a secret. Things get worse when there's an assassination attempt against Fury that leads to a wide conspiracy theory involving S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the mysterious appearance of an unstoppable ruthless killer nicknamed The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

THE GOOD STUFF
 
For first-timers who exposed to big-scale action movie like CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, directors Anthony and Joe Russo does a tremendous job like seasoned pros. Surprisingly enough, most of the action sequences are top notch which has that sense of urgency to keep you on the edge of your seat.

But the real deal here is the way Anthony and Joe Russo made a lot of efforts to distinguish CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER from your average Marvel movie. Working on a tense script from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, it's a refreshing change of pace to see a comic-book movie is fueled with political intrigue. Apart from that, Anthony and Joe Russo also make good use of their comedy background to come up a couple of witty one-liners as well as snappy verbal exchanges along the way.

As Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Evans fares better than he did in the first movie as well as THE AVENGERS. This is because his character is finally given a chance to evolve more than just a strictly by-the-book superhero who follow orders. Not only that, he also improved a lot in terms of fighting scenes as well as his excellent use of the shield. And despite this is a solo movie, Anthony and Joe Russo ensure that most of the supporting actors here are given a fair share of the limelight. As Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson is as stunning as ever. Anthony Mackie acquits his role well as Steve Rogers' sidekick, Sam Wilson/The Falcon while Samuel L. Jackson is blessed with a bigger and important role this time around as Nick Fury. Finally, there's Robert Redford, who gives a solid performance as the mysterious S.H.I.E.L.D. senior leader, Alexander Pierce.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
Marvel fans rejoice! There are plenty of memorable moments throughout the movie and here goes: the intense car chase scene between Nick Fury and the police that ends with a showdown against the Winter Soldier; the claustrophobic fight scene in an elevator where Steve Rogers takes down a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents; the exciting scene where Steve Rogers jumps off from his motorcycle while throwing his shield to take down an S.H.I.E.L.D.'s jet (Quinjet); the explosive battle scene at the highway that ends with an one-on-one fight between Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier; and the extended climactic finale involving the helicarriers.

THE BAD STUFF
  
At 136 minutes (which makes this as Marvel's second longest movie after 2012's THE AVENGERS), there are times the plot feels a bit heavy-handed. And for a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie subtitled as THE WINTER SOLDIER, it's rather surprising that Sebastian Stan's character as The Winter Soldier himself is sadly underwritten (although he looks good during the action sequences).

While there are plenty of praises to be had for the action sequences, I just couldn't help it but feel some of Anthony and Joe Russo's camerawork is inconsistent. For instance, most of the opening set-piece on a ship is hard to tell what's really going on because the way they utilise too many tight close-ups and whip pans.

  FINAL WORDS


CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER may have its fair share of flaws, but this sequel remains engaging enough to qualify as one of the best Marvel movies ever made. Likewise, don't leave your seat once the end credits rolls. And just so you know (especially for fans), there are two teasers at the middle and another one at the conclusion.

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