Review | Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3.5

CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldir
Now we’re talking: the Captain puts on a decent suit, at last

In my review for Thor: The Dark World, I complained about the lack of personality of the directors working inside the Marvel Studios Cinematic Uinverse, seeming more like custom employees for big boss Kevin Feige’s “products” (not that those movies weren’t good on their own terms, however). But now, it appears that the House of Ideas has given more freedom to brothers Anthony and Joe Russo with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, radically different project from it’s predecessors that can easily be seen as one of the studios highest marks – even if far from perfect.

The plot takes place in Washington, following Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) while he works under his patriotic identity with his partner Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) for SHIELD. After a questionable mission, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by a mysterious hitman known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), and the Captain begins to question his loyalty with the agency, which may be a victim of corruption in it’s internal departments.

Right from the start, it’s possible to realize an atempt from screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to confer a more adult, political plot to the WWII hero. I confess I was rather worried with the way a character from the 1940’s could star a solo movie set in present day (since essencialy, Rogers is a man from his time), but the duo succeeds by bringing in elements of international espionage and the US government paranoia on keeping their “enemies” under complete vigilance, going against the manichean “black and white” persona of the nazi-fighting hero. Chris Evans’ performance is far more interesting here, since allows him not only to play with the notion of a man out of his time (keep a close eye to his notepad of references…), but also to question his own role in that world.

And is precisely for those virtues that it makes me sad seeing the movie take the wrong decisions when exploring the nature of the invisible threat. Starting of from the awesome character in the title, a deadly and visually creative opponent (also with an ispired score from Henry Jackman, who writes him a hauting theme), Markus and McFeely’s script disappoints by bringing back some threats from the hero’s first solo adventure. Sure, I understand it’s a crucial element in the Captain America’s comics, but if it’s already hard to make a guy wearing the USA flag in the XXIst century, what to say of a scientific nazi division? It worked with the Captain, but with HYDRA… It’s just another agency planning to rule the world, diverging from the story’s more adult take.

But if the production shows clear problems in it’s core, at least it can proudly be recognized more as movie in pure form. The humor is much better placed here (nothing like the goofiness in Thor or Iron Man 3) and, as I previously noted, the Russo brothers completely change the style of Marvel movies by betting on rousy action scenes with quick cuts and hand held cameras; a smart decision (and clearly inspired in Paul Greengrass’ Bourne movies) that provides The Winter Soldier some of it’s best moments, suredue to impress the audience with excepcionally choreographed fights and thrilling car chases.

Ultimately, Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals itself to be one of the most adult and better placed Marvel Studios’ productions, even if slightly severed by thematic divergences. With exciting spectacle and moments of true tension, it becomes one of the most interesting movies of the studio so far.

Obs: As usual, we have two scenes after de ending. The first, middle-credits, and the last, post-credits.

Obs II: Stan Lee is there too. Duh.

Obs III: Thanks to Odin, my session was in 2D, so I can’t comment on the 3D conversion.

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