A Review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Photo credit (x)

Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson as Captain America and Black Widow. Photo credit: (x)

Captain America (Chris Evans) is back as the star-spangled man with a plan who doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself in this newfangled world.  He visits modern-day veterans, (well, one veteran that will be important to the plot later on) goes on missions (well, one mission that will be important to the plot later on) and tries to get some closure for his past (by visiting one person who says something that, you guessed it, will be important to the plot later on) and. . .that’s about it.

The plot, as far as I can tell, goes something like this: Nick Fury and Cap clash on ideals, there’s a mysterious assassin afoot, and of course a MacGuffin in the form of a USB drive which seems a little-high tech for our intrepid hero, but really, why nitpick when there are plot holes so large you could drive three S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers through them? Shadowy organizations are not to be trusted, Cap goes to unravel the mysteries of the MacGuffin, and suddenly everything is not as it seems, wheels within wheels, moves and countermoves. . .sorry, I got lost for a second in the plot of a much better movie. Where was I?

Ah yes, plot. Well, without getting too far into spoiler territory, it starts off excellently with a standard one man versus The Man and then. . .

I won’t go into the details of THE REVEAL here, but, it’s dumb. Really, really dumb. Shock you out of your movie watching experience dumb. Question the ten dollars you spent dumb.

Now the first half of the movie is, dare I say, quite brilliant. The actors are excellent. The setup is well done and engaging and the mysteries practically beg to be unraveled. There’s a lot of story-meat presented in the first half of the movie. Unfortunately, the second half does not handle it well, tossing filet mignon and bits of gristle alike into one big stew that tastes worse the longer you keep it in your mouth.

Anthony Mackie as Falcon. Photo credit (x).

Anthony Mackie as Falcon. Photo credit (x)

Intermixed throughout this bubonic broth are Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) both wonderful additions to the Captain’s straight-laced, straight-faced and sometimes straight-up boring presence. Johansson’s presence and surprising emotional weight cements her scenes as some of the most memorable in the film while Mackie’s quips, quotes and impressive action sequences as Cap’s literal wingman also capture (and hold) attention. Unfortunately, any character development or possible subplots for the two are buried beneath nonsensical twists and pseudo-drama that only serves to undermine their importance to the story, rather than heighten the overall tension as one imagines was the intended purpose.

The main villain, while not quite at the level of Izan (a Captain America foe whose name is literally Nazi backwards) gets dangerously close to such irrelevant silliness during the first half of the movie. In the second half, he abandons all pretense of salvageable sense and comes down with a raging case of Generic Villain Syndrome. Monologuing, insanity-from-nowhere, and a cache of unexplained, never-before-seen weaponry that lends him an edge (until our heroes get the drop on him at least).

Generic Villain Syndrome worked for Red Skull in the first Captain America movie because he was already silly, outlandish and insane. The Winter Soldier‘s main villain is none of these until the plot demands it, at which point it, (presumably having done its job by managing to drag the story’s shambling reanimated carcass to the climax) promptly falls to pieces in one of the silliest and stakeless (is that a word? I’m making it a word) fight scenes it has ever been my misfortune to watch. I’m talking Expendables 2 levels of pointlessness here.

And speaking of the titular Winter Soldier, Bucky has surprising little to do with either THE REVEAL or the main plot and, with the exception of a few scenes at the very end of the movie, serves mostly as a glorified henchman.

Photo credit (x).

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes. Photo credit: (x)

Despite the needless drama, this movie did a lot of things right. The acting is excellent. (Side note: I would pay a great deal of money to see either a Black Widow or Falcon movie. Seriously, Hollywood, make this happen). The fighting is excellently choreographed (I was thinking Bourne all the way through) and characters constantly find themselves in nice clear areas with plenty room to show off their pointless, but pretty, gymnastic skills. The CGI is impressive, the shiny technology is. . .shiny, the computer-science-magic jargon is typical.

Ultimately, I think my dissatisfaction with this movie stems from the corniness of THE REVEAL. For whatever reason, it snapped my willing suspension of disbelief like the arm of a pre-super-serum Steve Rogers and tainted the entire rest of the movie with its ridiculousness.

SPOILER/EXAMPLE: (highlight to read) [The whiney senator from Iron Man 2 makes an appearance, awkwardly whispering “Hail Hydra” into a passing covert agent’s ear in one of the more ridiculous scenes. That is, of course, rated on a scale of ridiculous scenes in the second half of the movie which can be pulled from nearly ever scene in the second half of the movie.]

I will say, however, that while I did not care for the first Captain America movie when it came out, it did grow on me the more times I watched it. I have a sneaking suspicion The Winter Soldier is going to pull something similar, so this rating may go up after a while.

Final score: 6/10

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Posted on April 6, 2014, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A Review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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