Bound to make Marvel fans happy, and while I enjoyed parts of it I didn’t much care like I did during the first installment. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has moved Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) to modern times for a slam-bang adventure that short-changes interest in character. Whatever unique characteristics there were to Rogers and his alter ego Captain America have quelled in favor of more crashes, collisions and kablammos. All the slight insecurities, gee-whiz bashfulness, the soul of Rogers, is gone. Violence and that thing called consequences are more cartoony than ever. And the story is simple, but oh my, made ever so convoluted.
The Nazis were defeated sixty some years ago, but the division of HYDRA is still going strong, and once again SHIELD needs to defeat it. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is framed for treason, or for this and that, and with him down the entire SHIELD division collapses. Rogers gets framed, too, in a jaded world that turns on heroes, and so he must save the day, clear his name and restore SHIELD. In a nutshell, that’s it with the story.
Scarlett Johansson has an elevated action role as Natasha / Black Widow, and has fun with the part, batting guys around with her karate. Anthony Mackie, always cheering up the screen, is the ordinary soldier Sam Wilson who puts on gear to become the Falcon (His flying scenes look like Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”). Robert Redford is the SHIELD successor to Fury with his hand on the World Security Council, and of course, has a double agenda. It goes without saying, Redford is performing on an entirely different acting level than anybody else, using crustiness and world-weariness to degrees atypical in a tentpole blockbuster. When he’s on the screen, it’s like we’re watching a 70’s political paranoia thriller.
The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is the newest armored nemesis, and it is to Rogers’ surprise he has a history with him. But the Winter Soldier is such a hypnotized silent villain. Are we emotionally flung back by anything he says or does, I mean, really?
The first big action scene of the movie is of an infiltration of a ship freighter that’s been hijacked, and Captain America has to take it back. A car chase with Nick Fury as the target contributes to some major demolition action, and it’s a crackerjack sequence. I got roused by these scenes. But as the movie droned on, I wondered, what happen to the Steve Rogers character and why does he never have anything more to say but Marvel aphorisms?
The character might have been bland but gung-ho before, now he’s just bland and an action automaton now. I am also reminded of what a 9-year old said when he walked out of “Thor: The Dark World” last fall: “In all the Marvel movies, the characters always seem to die but they come back to life and not ever really die.”
136 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION-ADVENTURE / COMIC BOOK LORE / WEEKEND AFTERNOON MOVIE