Here's my official review, 'on time' even!
There's so much I didn't even get into. I need to spend an hour or six geeking out over this film with some friends.
Remember, these are just my own impressions of the film. Feel free to comment, question, discuss, and even submit your own reviews! Captain America: The Winter Soldier SPOILERS HERE! If you’ve not seen the film yet, READ NO FURTHER! Overall:
Good plot, great characters, smooth interactions, invested performances by all!
Action, action, action! Don’t worry, you won’t be bored.
Stunning fight choreography. My favourite scene is after Winter Soldier and Rumlow’s strike force ambush Cap, Wilson, and Black Widow on the overpass.
Of course Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson return to deliver powerhouse performances. They make these characters live and breathe, not just as fantastic heroes, but as people. I especially enjoyed seeing the little moments of vulnerability between Steve and Natasha. What makes heroes great isn’t their power, but their weakness.
The banter! Love it! The Cast:
This presentation has sold me on Falcon in a way the comics never really did.
Sam Wilson appears here as a former soldier, veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, with all the baggage that brings. I’m sure this is partly a personal bias, but this backstory not only makes sense with Marvel’s movie-verse, it resonates better with me than his comic origin story. Wartime service gives him a thread of common experience with Steve, and lays the foundation for Sam’s good instinct to trust and help Steve and Natasha when they are made fugitives from SHIELD.
Newcomer [to Marvel moviedom] Anthony Mackie delivers an honest and powerful performance. He shows us how Sam obviously looks up to Cap – in their casual, playful interaction at the opening – but respects and understands all that he’s been through – their encounter at the VA. He also portrays Sam as a capable warrior, both in the air and on the ground!
No mention of Redwing… next movie?
Samuel L. Jackson gets to finally put the director of SHIELD through all his paces!
Nice to see you again.
This chilling performance by Robert Redford should be a warning to us all of the power of good rhetoric. Pierce truly believes his way is right and best, and is willing to take the most extreme steps to see it through. The fact that he gets so close is testament to his skillful gaming of the system and his peers at every step. The moment that struck me most was when Agent 13 demands an explanation of why SHIELD is hunting Captain America. Pierce does not lie, he only spins the truth. Politicians and the media do this all the time!
What a bastard! Frank Grillo does a bang up job of making me fiercely dislike this character.
As it should be. Rumlow is for Hydra, through and through. He is ready and willing to kill to order, even to execute Captain America and Black Widow, his former allies and teammates. I do hope he is slated to return as Crossbones in later Marvel cinematic offerings.
Georges Batroc/Batroc the Leaper:
Another character I had real trouble taking seriously in the comics!
But no more, Georges St-Pierre makes him believable to me! Especially interesting that he can hold his own against Captain America hand to hand, whereas much of his pirate crew got taken down by Cap in minutes.
Also, the character remains ‘free’ to return in future films
Pretty, slightly flirty, but fiercely capable, and as idealistic as her dear old aunt.
I’m sure she’ll be back. Thank you, Emily VanCamp!
The scene where Steve visits an aged and demented Peggy is simply heartbreaking. Hayley Atwell, my hat is off to you. “You’re my friend.” / “You’re my mission.”
Last but not least, Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan really shows his versitality as an actor because for most of the film he has only body language to deliver his character by. And that body language says loud and clear “I’ve got all the time in the world, and nothing will stop me.” Winter Soldier is ruthless, almost emotionless, strong and fast enough to go toe to toe with Cap! The execution of his given mission is all he has known in the long decades following World War II, and we’re given hints his past is as sordid and ‘red’ as Black Widow’s. He follows through, no matter what it takes. He hunts Nick Fury down and nearly makes good. That moment when he shoots Fury through the wall of Steve’s apartment made me jump both times!
Winter Soldier is seemingly used to more straight-forward missions. Black Widow inspires his wrath when she shoots him in the face on the overpass. The emotionless facade finally cracks. It’s a good way to unbalance him slightly, so when he encounters Steve up close a few minutes later, he’s not fully on his game. He begins to lose control of the situation.
An interesting choice on the part of the filmmakers, the only flashback we are shown of the fateful fall is from Bucky’s perspective, not Steve’s. That’s where his conditioning starts to break down, and we get a glimpse of the man he used to be, which even Hydra’s mindwipes still can’t fully suppress. Yet he still submits to the wipe. Because it’s easier? Because it’s so familiar? I can’t say, but it’s a painful image to see him accept that so passively.
The showdown aboard the doomed helicarrier drives him right to the edge. But still not over it. Although he rescues Steve from drowning at the last, he doesn’t hang around. He may have broken free of Hydra’s yoke, but he has still not reclaimed his self, his memory, or his connection to Steve. I very much like that they left it open-ended. For the strength of the character, Barnes needs to struggle with this for a long time coming.
I also like the parallel drawn between Bucky and Steve as they each visit the Smithsonian exhibit, separately, but disguised in similar fashion. Technology:
Insight: A pretty straight forward ‘one-up’ of the SHIELD helicarrier introduced in Avengers. But now there are three. And they have repulsors. And lots and lots and LOTS of very big guns.
In an old undergound bunker Cap and Widow discover… the brain and personality [complete with thick accent] of Dr Arnim Zola, preserved on reams and reams of old 1980’s era computer data reels. As a near-litteral translation from panel to screen, this reads a thousand times better than I ever imagined. The only bothersome thing to me is not with the tech, but the character. In the first Captain America film Zola seemed not wholy convicted of Hydra’s vision for the new order, only desirous of persuing his scientific work and willing to give at least lip service to anyone who would foot the bill [Hydra and Red Skull]; but here he is revealed to be the vehicle for Hydra’s clandestine insertion into the very heart of SHIELD.
Arnim Zola wrote an algorithm to predict human behavior!
That alone should stand as indicator of his threat level. And do you really think that if they took the trouble to copy his persona into “25000 feet of databanks” that they would then mothball and later destroy the only copy?
Slick, stylish, plausible. Everything I look for in movie tech.
I’m glad they got away from the bright red wings from the classic character design. I like the concept: ultralight, collapsable. It seems that Sam Wilson controls the wings partially by direct interface with his arms – nod to the comic origin – but he can also set them on “autopilot” or maybe use a preset configuration to leave his hands free for weapons. That part wasn’t clear, and could bear more explanation/exploration.
I really liked that he could deploy or retract the wings at will, giving him truly all the high-speed maneuverability of a bird.
Winter Soldier’s arm:
Phenomenal. Another intelligent translation from comic to film. It’s the little details: the flex of the elements, the way they seem to wind up and then release to deliver that incredible strength, even the sound effects. Extra:
Steve’s Bookshelf: I’m curious to know what Steve is reading. There’s probably a list already on the web somewhere, but I’ll be trying to glean it by eye once the DVD is out.
Stephen Strange namedrop by Jasper Sitwell!
Oh yeah, Jasper Sitwell!
I knew there was some reason I didn’t like Senator Stern.
Tony Stark is targeted in Avengers Tower by the Insight helicarriers.
Baron Von Strucker: Pretty straight forward. Reminds me a little too much of Red Skull, but he only had a minute. Character is clearly a case of “knowledge is power, no matter the cost.” He will explore and experiment with even the darkest of secrets.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver: Frightening!
I don’t know yet if I like the direction they’re taking these characters, but damn! You have my attention!