Dr. Donna Copeland’s
CHRIS EVANS SCARLETT JOHANSSON SAMUEL L. JACKSON ROBERT REDFORD ANTHONY MACKIE FRANK GRILLO SABASTIAN STAN
THE WINTER SOLDIER
After somewhat praising director Joe Johnston for his restraint with Captain America: The First Avenger back in 2011, it’s odd that I find Winter Soldier a more complete film in the endless barrage of superior hero movies due to its non-stop action sequences. The real impressive feat here is comedy directors Anthony and Joe Russo's (You, Me & Dupree, Welcome to Collinwood) total switch from the type of material they are familiar with. That, or it means anyone can direct these types of mindless films, because it’s the producers and studio heads who are really in control? Either way, the writing behind Black Widow is great and this film finally chooses to view her as a main character, equal to the male superheroes.
Steve Rogers (Evans) continues to struggle with the modern world. When a fellow ex-military friend asks him what makes him happy, he isn’t sure just yet. After the world-changing events in New York (i.e. The Avengers), SHIELD is working on all sorts of threatening new protective measures. Nick Fury (Jackson) finds himself at odds with his old friend Alexander Pierce (Redford), who has a secret agenda that doesn’t include Furry or his team. Natasha (Johansson) keeps pushing Rogers to date and get out into the world, but his past, especially the events surrounding his best friend Bucky Barnes (Stan), continue to haunt him.
The Marvel universe continues to abide by the “separate but equal” concept that these movies are connected (events here set up Avengers: Age of Ultron), mention Stark multiple times, reference Hulk, and even Thor), yet logically make no sense that they would exist in the same world. For instance, when Furry is being brutally attacked in a scene that would have put Washington DC on lock down, no one comes to his aid; even with the thousands of people witnessing the event. The entire integrity and reliability of SHIELD is compromised in this film, but Avengers are nowhere to be found. I guess Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and everyone else is on vacation, because Black Widow says in one scene, “Everyone we know is trying to kill us.” Everyone, she says.
There are a lot of comparisons to the difference between Captain America and everyone else; Stark embraces the future while Rogers looks to the past. That idea becomes realized with the real villain this films offers: a Captain America shadow, if you will. Winter Soldier might fare better because it isn’t plagued with backstory like the first film was when fleshing out Rogers's past; however, the fight sequences become exhaustingly monotonous. The real excitement here is with Black Widow. Johansson’s talent and body language really make her the centerpiece. Another nice little moment, if you know your history, is that Redford actually discovered Johansson and cast her in The Horse Whisperer back in 1998, so their “I’m sorry, did I ruin your moment,” scene is pretty special.
Final Thought – It may be Captain America’s movie, but Black Widow steals the show.
By: Dustin Chase
Early on and throughout this film, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is told to “trust no one”, and that seems to be the running theme of this hair-raising tale accompanied by horrendous car chases, vicious fights, explosions, and gunfire throughout. Anytime things begin to slow down and people start to talk, another huge melee ensues. But excitement prevails, and the plot is intricate enough with enough surprises to entertain those who are into this genre.
Steve is ambivalent about getting involved in a certain struggle again as Captain America, and at first walks away from the entreaties of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Head of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The cryptic information Nick lets out is enough to turn Steve off and, further, he kindles Steve’s resentment about Nick’s past withholding of information. However, when pirates storm a U.S. Navy vessel and take captives, he relents and joins with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to rescue them.
This story has many layers, and at times it’s hard for the viewer to know whom to trust or what has really happened. Early on, there is an unbelievable car chase with officers relentlessly pursuing Fury with dozens of police cars, hundreds of bullet holes in his vehicle, and massive destruction in its wake. And he is indeed taken to the hospital in critical condition. As Rogers seeks to learn more about something he senses is going on, he begins to uncover a sinister plot that could radically affect the whole world. His search makes him a suspect, and he and Romanoff have to run for their lives. In seeking cover from a man Rogers has recently met on the jogging route, the man offers his extraordinary powers to help him and Romanoff; he becomes The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors, whose previous works have been primarily in television, have pulled off an exciting thriller with well-executed fight scenes and impressive special effects. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay keeps the action going at a good pace and reveals the underlying intrigues in a timely and skillful way.
Chris Evans embodies the American ideal to a T, and always comes through believably as the most sincere. Johansson knows just how to weave in and out of mystery and then strike like a panther when provoked. Robert Redford as the secretive head of a world organization is just as creepy as he should be.