And no, my fellow movie fans, I don’t just mean that Chris Evans’ beloved Cappie is ready to be seen again in the sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I mean that so is Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes.
Which makes this follow-up to the 2011 blockbuster that officially introduced Evans’ brawnily pensive Steve Rogers to the Marvelverse a bit of a personal affair for the guy, for in this movie, Cappie not only has to contend with an of-the-moment threat but with an old pal in need as well.
That would be our red-white-and-blue hero’s former sidekick-turned-subtitular villain.
The movie, which was helmed by the Emmy-winning Russo brothers (TV’s Arrested Development), is a well-paced adventure set two years after the memorable events of The Avengers. Rogers is now living in Washington, D.C., and, ever the good soldier, he is dutifully serving S.H.I.E.L.D. – but he is also growing increasingly wary and vocal in his distaste for the agency’s agenda, as stubbornly embodied by Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) penchant for secrecy.
You see, Cappie like, isn’t crazy about being used as symbol for S.H.I.E.L.D. heroics, like saving a vessel overcome by pirates, when that task serves as a cover-up for a mission that sees the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) covertly retrieving data that Fury wants.
Captain America is nobody’s patsy! And he’s just about had it with the not being able to really trust the folks for whom he works.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier gets its relevant on a couple short scenes later when Fury is attacked by a contingent of faux law enforcers led by the enigmatic Winter Soldier (a creation, we later find out, of a villain all too familiar to Cappie).
It turns out that Fury had good reason for secrecy, after all, as S.H.I.E.L.D. may be under siege from within.
Cue in Robert Redford’s shady Alexander Pierce, Fury’s successor, who brands Cappie enemy numero uno, the mother of all crime prevention units (good call, man: how quickly good intentions can turn nefarious!), and a couple of showdowns with a most formidable foe (let’s discuss: is the Winter Soldier’s left arm vibranium, too?), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier starts to feel overstuffed.
Did I mention that Anthony Mackie is also on board, and sees some good action as the Falcon, Cappie’s new BFF? Or that Emily VanCamp plays – via telegraph in this one (she has just a good two or three key moments) – his would-be new love interest?
It’s a good thing that Marvel knows how to deliver a good piece of popcorn fun, because otherwise I would have to say skip this one and watch it on video at home.
If only the studio could (re)focus its attentions on the hero at hand and not just work toward what’s coming down the pike, then perhaps its movies would be unquestionably good and not what they are turning into: mass-churned fun. The house that Iron Man built – and its occupants (who, as seen in this surefire blockbuster, are capable of political intrigue like the best of ’em) – are capable of deeper than that.
And of surprises that stick and teases for which we do not have to wait until after the credits begin to roll.
My Rating ***
Photo: Marvel Studios.