By now, a mere week or so since Captain America: The Winter Soldier (CATWS from now on) was released, it has proven a mighty box-office hit and, for the most part, people really like, if not outright love, the film.
Count me in the previous category.
I very much enjoyed CATWS and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. The movie is a first rate production featuring, among other things, suspense, action, humor, and terrific special effects. But it this added bonus makes it even more special: The very clever casting of Robert Redford in a role that screams references to some of his previous films (most notably All The President’s Men and Three Days of the Condor) while simultaneously -and deviously- subverting fans of those older film’s expectations. I’ll say no more…
So, in brief: See the movie. Unless you have no pulse, you should find it very enjoyable. It is not perfect, but it is a solid, and easily one of the better, Marvel Universe films released to date.
SPOILERY REVIEW FOLLOWS!!!!
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!
Allow me to elaborate on the whole “it is not perfect” thing I mentioned above.
Yes, CATWS is a solid, very entertaining film. It is also, unfortunately, a little bit like the latest James Bond film Skyfall (my review of it can be found here): A first rate production and an exciting film with a rather…how do I put it kindly?…troubled story.
Now, I don’t think CATWS’ story was quite as flawed as Skyfall’s. Yet it does have its problems. For example, the whole opening bit involving a ship taken over by pirates wound up being something else.
But what exactly?
There was a VERY IMPORTANT computer program -and personnel- on board the ship which figured into the rest of the story, but why in the world was this program there? There is no explanation given, which makes you wonder all the more why it was there in the first place. Later in the film we’re told that maybe Sgt. Fury -the man who sends in Captain America and his group to “rescue” the ship- actually had something to do with the piracy in the first place.
As a viewer I was never certain because it is the villain who states Fury was responsible for the piracy itself. However, him being the villain, do we believe his words? Was Fury just “lucky” the ship was assaulted and he then got his hands on this highly important material?
As should be evident, even as I write this I have no idea who was behind this opening piracy.
Which leads us to the next, most difficult aspect of the movie to swallow: That the SHIELD organization, Fury’s organization, was infiltrated many years before and is run by operatives of HYDRA, Marvel’s answer to James Bond’s S.P.E.C.T.E.R.
Because the movie rolls along so nicely, I was willing to let that one pass, but when you think about it, this idea is a really hard one to accept. It would be akin to having the Nazi’s “secretly” infiltrate the U.S. Army during the waning days of WWII and “lay low” all this time while essentially doing their evil undercover. If these evil people were so deeply infiltrated within SHIELD, why did they let the piracy thing happen? If such an important program to them was on that ship, why let Captain America go there and rescue the passengers?
Evil organizations shouldn’t care too much about losing one or two people. Couldn’t they have “accidentally” destroyed the ship and everyone on board and ended the possibility of their master plan being exposed once and for all?
Now, moving to the meat and potatoes of the film, actor Chris Evans is decent in the role of Captain America but little more. While I’ve enjoyed him in other roles, as Captain America he’s rather bland and hard to relate to. I’m sure others may disagree. Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson fare better in their roles of the Black Widow and Sgt. Fury, respectively, and Anthony Mackie is fine in the role of the Falcon.
But its Robert Redford that really grabbed my attention. I’ll be honest, when all was said and done his role was a cliche (He essentially played Cliff Robertson’s role from Three Days of the Condor). Yet it was stunning to see the veteran actor in a “superhero” movie. Even more intriguing is to play the “what if” game. In his youth, I think Mr. Redford would have made a terrific Captain America. He certainly has the right look for it!
Ah, what could have been.
In the end, I return to what I said before: CATWS is worth your time. I said above that it was one of the “better” Marvel Universe films I’ve seen. Thinking about some of the others, I may have to revise my opinion. It may be the best of the lot, at least so far, even with the flaws mentioned above.
Go see it. You’ll enjoy it.