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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Review by Paul Bowler

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier gets the next installment of the Marvel saga off to a fine start, as the shield-slinging Avenger continues to adjust to life in the modern world as his past returns to haunt him. This blockbuster sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger sees Steve Rogers / Captain America settling into his new life following the events of The Avengers as he continues to work with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.

A new threat emerges after Captain America is involved in a rescue mission at sea after a ship is captured by Georges Batroc (George St-Pierre); Cap uncovers a dark conspiracy, one that challenges everything he stands for. When someone close to him is attacked Captain America teams up with Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, in his ongoing battle against the highly trained forces that have been sent against him, whilst also enlisting the help of a new ally, the Falcon, as they face a powerful new enemy, one with a secret past of his own – the formidable Winter Soldier.

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This Marvel sequel is a real step up for the franchise. While his origin was handled well in Captain America: The First Avenger, the character was still finding his feet in The Avengers, now in The Winter Soldier we have a film that really capitalizes on the characters full potential. Chris Evans gives a great performance as Captain America / Steve Rogers, bringing an added depth to the character as Cap finds himself in a world where political corruption is now his greatest enemy. There is also the heartrending realization of everything he has left behind in his old life, it’s an underlying theme which The Winter Soldier uses to great effect, one that shows how much this franchise has evolved and grown.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is in many respects, as much a gritty conspiracy thriller as it is an all-out superhero action story, and as a result the tightly plotted screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely delivers its fair share of thrills and adrenalin pumping action sequences along with some well structured character development to balance the excellently choreographed fight scenes.

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When Cap learns about a secret project and the Helicarriers created for it, each fitted out with new surveillance technology and weapons to eliminate potential threats before they can happen, the duplicitous and uncompromising nature of the project brings him into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D and his boss Nick Fury. As the forces of the clandestine organization manipulating events from within begins to close in it falls to Captain America and the Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy that now threatens to engulf them all. Samuel L Jackson also gets plenty to do as Nick Fury, giving a captivating and commanding performance, and Scarlet Johansson is excellent as the badass super-spy, Robert Redford stars as a Government official for S.H.I.E.L.D, while Cobie Smulders plays Mira Hill and Emil VanCamp is introduced as Sharon Carter. Hayley Atwell also returns, made up as the elderly Peggy Carter – the Captain’s former sweetheart from the 1940’s.

There is great chemistry between Cap and the Black Widow, with their opposing morals and personalities, forcing them together in such extreme circumstances like this makes for some really exciting moments. Anthony Mackie makes an impressive new addition to the series as war veteran Sam Wilson, who also strikes up a close friendship with Cap. Wilson is later transformed into the Falcon with the help of some special flight equipment, which he uses to join the battle.

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The action in Captain America: The Winter Soldier hardly lets up for moment: with a thrilling fight on a ship at sea, a nail-biting car chase through Washington and assassination attempt on Nick Fury is perfectly staged, and there are also some brilliant aerial battles when the Falcon joins the fray and takes to the skies.

The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is ruthlessly efficient killer; he possesses a metallic arm, and has a flair for violence that will let nothing stop him from achieving his goal. The Winter Soldier also has a dark, terrible secret, one that also reaches back into Cap’s own past. Sebastian Stan gives an excellent performance as The Winter Soldier, as intense as the Terminator, with just a glimmer of the humanity beneath, his true identity and that of those he works for may come as no surprise, but his steely presence is more than enough to maintain the suspense.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a spectacular film which draws on every ounce of its dark premise, inspired by Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier storyline from the Captain America comics, and this makes for a hugely entertaining film. There are plenty of references, name-checks, and in-jokes for fans to enjoy, while still being enjoyable and accessible for those who haven’t read the comic book series. Captain America: The Winter Soldier really honours the character of the star spangled Avenger, events in this film look set shake up the Marvel Cinematic Universe quite dramatically, it is easily the best of Marvel’s Phase 2 films so far, the special effects are breathtaking, and it all builds towards a spectacular action-packed final act that will have you on the edge of your seat. A must see film, and make sure you sick around for those two post credit scenes as well.