Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review


Rated PG-13

136 min.

Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Directed by: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford

So Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has done battle with the likes of the Red Skull during World War II, taken on the god of mischief Loki with a rag tag team of superheroes and in the middle of all that, was frozen for half of a century! What else is there for a guy to do?  As Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows, plenty.

The main theme of the film plays with the idea of trust. Who can we trust? How well do we know someone? Captain America: The Winter Soldier amounts to a big soul-searching journey with a massive plot to take over the world on the outside of this existential crisis. Cap has a lot to deal with. He wonders if he is fighting on the right team in S.H.I.E.L.D., as it’s revealed to him that they are creating what amounts to weapons of mass destruction. He receives a visit from an old friend in the form of HYDRA assassin, The Winter Soldier, and the life that he has grown accustomed to since being defrosted subsequently collapses around him. In essence, we the viewers bear witness to the metaphorical death of Captain America as soldier and his subsequent rebirth as a leader. This is one of those films where you can truly say that we go on a journey with our protagonist.

What Works:

  • The twists worked very well – Simply put, they were very smart and true to the characters. You don’t find yourself saying, “Cap wouldn’t do that” or “Black Widow wouldn’t act like that.” These are strong-willed, resilient and intelligent characters and they are treated with that in mind.
  • The secondary characters are a joy to watch – My favorite among this group is Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Sam Wilson wears the scars of war but uses his trauma to help, as he leads a veterans support group at the V.A. His mix of charm and playfulness, contrasted with deep-seeded guilt and his loyalty to those who need him, make him an amazing character to watch fight alongside Cap, Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Speaking of Fury, this is by far the character’s best big-screen story to date. Fury’s character singlehandedly embodies the theme of trust, always looking for trust but sometimes having to break trust to find it. Rounding out the team is Black Widow. She is a person that loves her job. Highly skilled in combat, intelligent with an always questioning fire, she turns out to be one of the few people that Cap can trust.
  • The action is non-stop – The scale of the action sequences in this film, in my opinion, are some of the biggest that I have ever seen. From battling on the streets/highways of Washington D.C. to the climactic gun ship battle between Captain America and The Winter Soldier.
  • Chris Evans is Steve Rogers/Captain America – I buy this casting hook, line and sinker. He brings so much gravitas and depth to the role as he is searching for these deep, personal answers, fighting to save not only his best friend, but the world from eminent destruction.

What Doesn’t Work:

  • Not enough Winter Soldier – This isn’t really a criticism as much as a desire to see the character have more screen-time along with more interactions with Captain America. The dynamic of Captain America trying to save his friend, Bucky Barnes as The Winter Soldier, is a sub-plot that could have played out more without altering other events that happen in the film.

In all, to say that this is an amazing film would be an understatement. Not many comic book adaptions can pull off being wildly entertaining while telling a great story at the same time. This is an epic, one that tells a wonderfully tight story and leaves you excited for the next part of the journey.