Picking up after “The Avengers,” Marvel’s latest film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has big boots to fill. Yet the sequel to the first Captain America flick doesn’t just fill them – it redesigns them. With Star Trek-like gadgets, James Bond espionage and “Mission: Impossible” sleekness, this blockbuster steps up from its 2011 beginnings, captivating audiences like never before.
Starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie and Scarlett Johansson, this film moves into new territory entirely. While the first movie exposes the inner-workings of Captain’s character, this one fleshes out the makings of his world.
This movie grounds itself in the present, contrasting with the period drama style of the first one.
The film starts as a political thriller as Captain America, played by Evans, criticizes the lack of transparency in the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency and the secrets kept within the organization. Jackson and Robert Redford serve as the S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders who pressure and test Captain America.
From there, it quickly evolves into an action film, as Captain (or Steve Rogers, as he’s known by his friends) must act on his convictions. This transition to action glides smoothly thanks to the stable wiring of Captain’s character.
From the very start of the movie, the camera focuses on Captain’s eyes, capturing his tenderness. His caring eye-rolls and his concerned stares work in unison with the script to establish him as a conflicted hero. His tenderness shines when contrasted with Black Widow’s sassiness and Falcon’s lightheartedness. Yet, the power of the performances by Evans, Johansson and Mackie legitimizes all of their characters equally.
Then, when they risk their safety to fight for their values, their actions act as credible extensions of their beliefs. The fighting in this film progresses away from the primitiveness of WWII combat towards a sci-fi, martial arts mix.
Choreographed in cross-disciplinary fighting styles, the action scenes are more exciting than those of other films.
The reason it works is thanks to the innovation of the film’s directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, the same brother duo who directed “Arrested Development.”
Using handheld cameras, they track the action directly. Not only does this make the film more action-packed – it makes it more dramatic.
The Russo brothers pushed the envelope in this film, proving that superhero movies are not just visual comics – in the right hands, they are a cinematic experience of their own.