Not only is this character the most interesting of the Marvel “Avengers” franchise, but Chris Evans nails the role as assuredly as the late Christopher Reeve did for Superman. Yes, I love Robert Downey Jr. and his rapid-fire talking, billionaire, genius playboy. In fact, Iron Man’s squabbles with the Captain were among my favorite scenes in 2012’s mega-blockbuster, “The Avengers”. And Chris Hemsworth is certainly a terrific Thor—he walks the line between pomp and silliness admirably. Mark Ruffalo was our 3rd Hulk in less than a decade, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the character in 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, now that he’s had an opportunity to gel. Here’s the thing though, the “Iron Man” sequels, the “Thor” movies, and both “Hulk” films stink. And I’m one that appreciates what Ang Lee tried to bring to the big green guy in 2003, but “Hulk” still didn’t work. But both “Captain America” films do. And 2011’s “The First Avenger” and now 2014’s “The Winter Soldier” hang their hat on Evans’ sly, yet effortless-looking take on the super-patriot. Captain Steve Rogers not only has gravitas as the man frozen out of his own time, but he’s got a weighty feeling character arc too. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” borders on greatness, and is only held back by its slavery to the Marvel universe. The Captain is one Marvel superheroes that can’t do it literally, but cinematically he really flies.
Captain Steve Rogers(Mr. Evans)is now living in Washington, D.C. and working for S.H.I.E.L.D. When Cap and Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff(the delectable and prolific, Scarlett Johansson)are performing a hostage-saving mission upon a pirated ship, Rogers becomes conflicted when he ascertains that Romanoff was pulling off a side issue for Nick Fury(talk about prolific, Mr. Samuel L. Jackson)involving the vessel’s computers. Rogers confronts Fury about his lack of awareness regarding this agenda, and also begins to wonder who he can really trust. Then Fury is attacked in his car, and grievously injured by an ambush team with a secret “weapon” known as the Winter Soldier. Soon, senior S.H.I.E.L.D. suit, Alexander Pierce(Robert freaking Redford!)brands the Captain a fugitive after Rogers withholds information about the injured Fury’s whereabouts, and various forces combine to hunt Rogers down. We quickly learn that S.H.I.E.L.D. has long been infiltrated by a rogue element. How deep? Well, you’ll see. And with the help of Black Widow, and new trusted friend Sam “Falcon” Wilson(a perfectly cast Anthony Mackie), Captain America fights the bad guys, the apparent “good” guys, the mysterious and powerful Winter Soldier, and then tries to block a trio of super-sized Helicarriers, that are designed to eliminate threatening advances preemptively, by linking to a network of spy satellites. Or so Cap’s been told. Before long, we find out just how ingrained the nefarious, oblique activity involving S.H.I.E.L.D. really is. And just how much the list of the Captain’s trusted associates has to be shortened.
Okay, so the 3D wasn’t really necessary for this one, but my nine-year-old son and I decided to give it a go with the glasses. We could’ve saved a few bucks. And at times the plot gets a little convoluted, but I enjoyed the complexity of the screenplay from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. “The Winter Soldier” isn’t slapsticky fish-out-of-water nonsense like the “Thor” flicks. The script and the direction respects the Captain, makes him real, lets him grieve, allows him to question his role—these are brave choices. Essentially, the film is always asking, “are the good guys really the good guys?”. Bravo. The filmmakers truly understand the pulse of this post 9/11 America. And the Captain is their soulful vessel for interpretation. The Russo brothers(Anthony and Joe)keep this thing mostly tight, and apparently free of excessive CGI. There are welcome, muscular car stunts, and a kick-ass elevator battle. And they’ve also supplied the Captain with brilliant and perfect support. Scarlett Johansson continues her incredible silver screen hot streak with her finely calibrated work as Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff. And what a superb addition “The Hurt Locker”‘s Anthony Mackie proves to be as Sam Wilson aka “Falcon”. He’s a gifted and charismatic component to the group. And the film actually gives Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury something to do in this outing. Plus, Robert Redford makes a fine, oily, corporate-baddie, asshole. You know what sums this up best though? My oldest son really thought that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was awesome! And call me biased, but I have to say that kid really knows his stuff. Grade: B+