Movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed By: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Ed Brubaker (story), from the comic by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Marvel, 2014
PG-13; 136 mins
4 stars (out of 5)


The more of these movies we get, a few things begin to happen: On the plus side, each movie adds a new layer to the cake that the Marvel movies have become, which means that Thor: The Dark World was better than Thor and this movie was also better than its predecessor. On the minus side, though, the movies all start to blur because they're all very much alike.

My issues with this particular movie are as follows:

  • Why was Captain America not wet when he got on the boat after jumping into the ocean?
  • Why didn't anyone simply shoot Winter Soldier boy in the head? Natasha had already shown what a good shot she was, and this guy's head is fully exposed, yet everyone kept shooting him in the armor? Why?
  • And why was the subtitle "The Winter Soldier" when that was, in actuality, a very small part of the story? In fact, that looks to be the next movie, not this one.

That's just a starter list. I'm sure if I thought about it some more, I could come up with additional items.

To summarize, without giving anything away (anything you haven't seen on the TV show, anyway): S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra, the goal being to control people by convincing them they will only be safe and secure if they live in a police state (run by Hydra, natch). Political commentary much? But anyway, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Insight program is really just a way to pick off potential enemies preemptively. An algorithm created by Zola (once a Nazi, now a computer) loads every individual's personal data and determines who is likely to become a problem, then big hovercraft can pick these people off with their guns. But of course Captain America can't stand for that, and with the help of Black Widow and his new buddy Falcon, he won't have to.

This all dovetails with what's been happening on the television series, of course. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been reduced to rubble with there being only a few loyal agents that can be trusted, and now they are forced to go underground.

At one point near the end of the film, as the climax involved getting new microchips onto the operating systems of the hovercraft, I found myself thinking that technology is both a terrible and wonderful thing. It provides so much progress and can change things so quickly . . . And yet it's really easy to fuck it up (as in hack). It's a fragile system, really. The more we rely on technology, the less safe and secure we actually are. Because it doesn't take much to bring technology down.

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Case in point: Captain America himself.

Anyway, things get complicated [SPOILER ALERT] when Cap realizes the Winter Soldier he's been fighting is really his old friend Bucky Barnes. Buck had his memory wiped by Hydra and has been reprogrammed to fight for them, so he doesn't remember his old buddy Captain America. Cap dons his old 40s costume in hopes of jogging Bucky's memory, but Bucky resists the flashbacks . . . The setup for Captain America #3 is Cap going after Bucky courtesy of a file Black Widow is able to get her hands on that details the project that turned Bucky into The Winter Soldier.

A solid film that meets expectations. Not quite as much fun as Thor: The Dark World; somehow Captain America just doesn't harness the humor as neatly. Not sure if that's due to his character, which is a tad stodgy, or if it's just the writing. Falcon was an awesome addition though, and Nick Fury was in good form and full of his usual attitude. On the whole an entertaining movie that falls squarely within the Marvel mold without doing much to break beyond it.

No comments: