“Get me…off…the grid!”
This is just what Marvel needed. As someone who was getting tired of their recent films, which usually delivered so much comic relief that it overpowered the film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is smart enough to stray off just the right amount so that it changes up the norm that we’ve come to expect from these movies, but also enough to keep us intrigued and make sure we have a good time watching.
Let me just start off by saying this is Marvel’s darkest film. And by Marvel, I mean this “Cinematic Universe”, not Marvel in general. Gone are all the silly one-liners that always fall flat on their faces. Instead, we get a fiercely complex political thriller that only even so often falls into the usual superhero tropes.
The source of this darkness comes mostly from the antagonist of the film (well, one of them), the Winter Soldier. Without spoiling much, let’s just say that he’s pretty damn good at his job, and even though his “power” might seem a bit pointless to the casual viewer, he sure does utilize it to the fullest and is responsible for some of the films greatest set-pieces.
But, mostly, the men that aren’t superhuman are the most dangerous here. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say that you can’t trust anyone, and some find that out the hard way. This is where the film uses its political angle perfectly; it does, at times, feel like an espionage film from the ’70s, but equipped with a much larger scope and budget.
But, the film isn’t all dark. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Arrested Development,You, Me and Depree) balanced the seriousness and the laughs perfectly, something that this universe hasn’t been able to do since the first Iron Man. Now, don’t go in expecting any huge belly laughs, but like I said, there’s just the right amount where it doesn’t feel forced or overbearing.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson get the job done in the lead roles. I was never really fond of either of their characters, but both of them proved themselves in this film. Evans is able to have a sweet moment early on in the film that’s great for fans of the original and Johansson kicks even more ass in this movie than in any of the other Marvel films. I, however, still don’t think she could lead a whole movie by herself. But that’s just me. And all I’ll say is thank god they gave Samuel L. Jackson something to do this time around.
However, that isn’t to say the film doesn’t tread into familiar/generic territory every so often. Anthony Mackie, as much as I like the guy, was nothing more than your stereotypical sidekick, akin to Rhodey from the Iron Man franchise. Also, the finale has one of the most cliched plot devices in modern-day action films, but managed to recover a bit with it’s great special effects afterwards.
I really don’t want to dwelve into some of the film’s juicer details because this is one where it’s better to go in not knowing much. Marvel fans will clearly enjoy and appreciate this one more than others, but that isn’t to say the general audience won’t like it. There’s enough twists and turns to keep even the broadest of audiences entertained in this taut thriller. This is, as of right now, the best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had to offer thus far. You better watch out, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
“You’ve gotta keep both eyes open.”
4.5 out of 5