Captain America: The Winter Soldier
by George Wolf
Robert Redford’s appearance as S.H.I.E.L.D director Alexander Pierce not only brings a boost of legendary star power to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but also provides a direct link to thrillers of old that the film recalls.
The new Captain adventure has its feet firmly planted in the world of spies and political intrigue. Think Redford classics such as Three Days of the Condor or All the President’s Men with a healthy dose of Avenging, and you’re getting warm.
Much of what made Captain America: The First Avenger work was the way it fully embraced the bygone era and dogged earnestness of Captain Steve Rogers. This time out, First Avenger screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely return to successfully bring their hero into the present while casting a knowing eye toward the future. The tandem also wrote Thor: The Dark World, and they clearly have impressive instincts for how to foster superpowers.
Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans, effortlessly charming) is adjusting to his new time period, partly by embracing the internet and keeping a notebook of things he missed that deserve attention (like the birth of Apple and classic Marvin Gaye). After an exciting rescue of high seas hostages, murderous events lead Cap, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, effortlessly sexy) and Nick Fury (Sam Jackson, effortlessly badass) to realize someone is dirty in the land of S.H.I.E.L.D, and they have a secret weapon of their own.
He’s the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) an assassin with a familiar backstory and an ambitious target list: Cap and his crew, including new superfriend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).
The Winter Soldier is witty and clever (be sure to read that gravestone) but it may also be the most cerebral of the Marvel movies. It respects the past while confronting the complexities of modern life and wondering what they mean for our future.
For some of the youngest audience members, that may mean some stretches of restlessness. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo do provide impressive and well-paced action sequences, but it’s what comes between the fisticuffs that gives The Winter Soldier a weighty, dare I say realistic relevance.
And, per the Marvel way, stay in your seat for some extra shawarma midway through the credits, and another serving at the very end.