Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Film length: 2hrs 16min
Theatrical Release: April 4th, 2014
Blu-ray release: Sept, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a big one! When I started this project many people singled out this film as their personal favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I do remember enjoying it when I watched it for the first time but I did think it had some flaws. Well, time to see if that opinion still holds true.
The film (3/5)
“Air conditioning is fully operational.”
The Winter Solider takes place two years after the events in The Avengers. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is almost 100 years old (frozen for about 70 of it) and is adjusting to living in contemporary Washington D.C., while working under Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fury sends Rogers along with Agent Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to join a strike team, led by Agent Rumlow (Frank Grillo), to take out mercenaries who hijacked a ship full of hostages. During the mission Rogers stumbles on Romanoff who is downloading top secret data from the ship’s computers under the orders of Fury.
Rogers confronts Fury after the mission and is let in on a top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. plan known as Project Insight. The plan places three Helicarriers in the air to be linked to spy satellites, and are designed to eliminate threats before they can happen. The idea of the project troubles Rogers because, although citizens will be protected, they will unknowingly be giving up their freedom.
When Fury discovers the project has been compromised by an unknown entity, he asks senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) to delay the project. Shorty after Fury is attacked by a deadly assassin known as The Winter Soldier. Fury is believed to be killed in the altercation, and now it is up to Captain America to find who is responsible for the Project Insight breach and the death of Nick Fury!
I can see why some put this so high on their favourite MCU movie list. The Winter Soldier is non-stop, well-paced action with some solid performances by the cast. Samuel L. Jackson finally gets to shine in some action scenes instead of the sitting back, barking orders like a four star general while everyone else takes care of the dirty work. The addition of Robert Redford to the cast is pretty sweet too. His role gives off vibes from his ’70s political film work like Three Days of Condor and All the President’s Men.
Overall, I found the film to be competent but bland. None of the characters in the main cast have any kind of story arc. Cap, for instance, hates Project Insight because he believes you shouldn’t give up your freedom for protection. Nick Fury believes in it because they can stop the bad guys prior to innocents getting hurt. These stances remain the same throughout the film and it goes nowhere. I understand how these are setups for the next movie in the series, but give me something to chew on.
I don’t know why they give up who the Winter Soldier is on the posters and Blu-ray cover too.
And if you missed it that time, they gave him his own poster:
I mean, that’s Bucky from the first movie… Why do this? I get that Marvel fans already know who he is, but I didn’t. I never heard of Bucky until I watched The First Avenger where I thought he died in the ’40s. A lot of the early parts of the film builds up to the reveal and it would have been a good opportunity for some suspense.
There is a lot of action in the film but I found most of it to be flat. Iron Man 3‘s “Barrel of Monkeys” sky diving scene had tension because it featured non-super power people in free fall. In the final action sequence of The Winter Soldier, everyone is fighting and hanging onto the sides of the Hellicarriers high in the sky. It is fine and all, but there isn’t much to stress when the good guys can either fly or survive big falls.
There are a couple of over-the-top moments that were a little too much for me to take too. The biggest one being Nick Fury’s “front seat compartment gun”. The gun is in an awkward part of the car and… Why is it there? Why not just have a gun somewhere that he can carry? A cheese ball moment but I suppose it is no worse than some James Bond stuff.
Memorable Moments / What Stood Out to Me
In the opening part of the film, Natasha picks up Rogers driving a 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray. Sweeeeet.
So much low ball cap action
As I first pointed out in my The Incredible Hulk review, whenever a character in the MCU goes incognito the move is to put on a ball cap as low as it can go. Try it the next time you’re out; no one will recognize or pay attention to you. Samuel L. Jackson goes for the hoodie just to be different, of course.
Bonus: Stan Lee cameo review! (5/5)
This time Stan-the-Man plays a security guard working at the Smithsonian who “loses” Captain America’s suit. Great set up with a good line from Stan. Perfect cameo.
The video won’t wow you but it is a competent looking Blu-ray. Some the scenes, like down in the bunker, look a little dark but most of this film takes place outside during the day. Might be the best skin tones I have seen on any Blu-ray so far too. Scroll back up to take another look at Stan for proof.
The Winter Soldier‘s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is top-notch with some booming low-end for the subwoofer, and the rear speakers get a work out from start to end. The sound of Cap’s shield bouncing around my head was worth the price of admission alone. My only grip has nothing to do with the Blu-ray itself, but the music score. A lot of what is played during the action scenes is these awful electric screams that I found very distracting. Cue forward in the video below for an example of what I’m referring to:
Special Features (1/5)
This might be the most disappointing set of extras so far. All of the featurettes are about selling the movie instead of giving us any insight on making it. One of them is focused on Steve’s notebook and what they put in it. Big whoop.
The audio commentary features Directors Anthony & Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and mostly dead air. Very boring commentary with a lot of talk about the characters and hardly any discussion about film making. Forgettable deleted scenes and a gag reel round things out. None of it is worth your time.
I know I did a lot of griping about this film but I did enjoy it. There isn’t much substance for me, but it is still a well above average action flick. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are fun to watch together with their Brother/Sister relationship, there are some great hand to hand combat scenes, and it introduces Falcon who is a fun character to have around. The Winter Soldiers only major fault is how it functions too well as a bridge movie and doesn’t have anything to say on its own.