A much more complex idea for the second in the Captain America films which feels like a conspiracy thriller. It’s a different angle to take for Marvel but it pays off in creating an untrusting world and a more tense environment for the titular hero to fight his way through.
The plot begins with Nick Fury assigning Captain America to take down some pirates on a ship but pretty quickly it becomes clear to him that Fury isn’t entirely honest all the time and soon there’s no one left to trust, as people turn on each other thanks to a higher cause returning from the first film. It’s a neat little idea and there’s more than one reference back to the 2011 movie mostly down to the arrival of a super baddie with a metal arm called The Winter Soldier. The downside to the film is in it’s predictability, you guess who’s going to be bad quite soon and even if you haven’t read the comics or read the film synopsis the film alludes quite clearly to what is going to be set up in terms of the mysterious soldier. The whole trip down memory lane of Steve Rogers visiting a Captain America exhibition was a tad contrived for plot purposes and threw back to the problematic patriotism of the first film. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ was just too USA for the rest of us to take but luckily apart from this museum visit it isn’t the patriotic number it once was and focuses more on an internal threat within S.H.I.E.L.D that could kill millions of people worldwide. You know this superhero film is going to be different and more politically based when right near the beginning it opens on a shot of Washington. An indication from the outset of where this film is going and gladly it works well. No longer are the stars and stripes days of patting Cpt. America on the back, now he’s nearly alone in a world of grey and danger.
The fights were pretty awesome, the first one was cut a little too choppily making it hard to actually see what was going on but after that they became fine and his shield seems to be even more refined to bounce off walls and the like to fling round and smash villains on the head. It’s a new uniform for a man in a new time and after researching history he seems to be comfortable in the present and thanks to a sweet little visit to his former love it feels even more like he’s grown to accept the changes. It’s a touching moment as he finally gets to see Peggy Carter and for a slow scene it’s a surprise it didn’t end up as a deleted scene bonus but thankfully they didn’t do that and left it in as it shows a grounded side to Rogers and lets them finally catch up with one another.
Chris Evans is once again determined and mucho strong as the red white and blue hero, his angst ramped up more when something happens putting him squarely in the firing line and having to escape constant barrages of gunfire and hand to hand combat. Luckily he can still trust Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and the introduction of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Johansson is still as kickass as normal and gets more screentime here to develop her assassin skills and her Romanoff backdrop which could finally be revealed pretty soon. Mackie is cool and provides a majority of the funnies and when his metal Icarus calling finally happens it’s a fun sight to see Falcon swoop through helicarrier battles being a bird-like Iron Man. Samuel L. Jackson gets more to play with here also and shows more vulnerability near the beginning in his worry of what is happening around him, he gets to shoot his way out of a scarily set up ambush too.
A slight issue is in the trailer spoiling things, for example the lift sequence could have been so much more tense but thanks to seeing the beginning and end of the fight in the trailer you knew what was going to happen so it felt expected. There’s a fine little touch of visual ghosts marching past Rogers as he visits his old barracks but then further down the line they go fully to a flashback which slowed down the film too much and was a sepia misfire adding nothing to the plot. If anything it was a huge arrow to ‘look at him, look where this is going and how sad Rogers is going to be’. They could have done part of that scene in the same way as the ghosts echoing around him, letting the present still play on and not take away from the racking up tension of the story. Once again Johansson can’t be deemed a hero without some camera shots lingering on her backside or her catsuit being cut down to reveal ample cleavage near the end of the film and another Marvel Phase Two film that seems to want to get each hero ridding their stuff which is growing a little tiring. Also the 3D was once again an unnecessary addition, hardly anything flies out at you and after ‘Gravity’ I doubt much can make me feel 3D is necessary.
This is certainly one of the darker Marvel films that’s been done though, with an innocent person being shot and it’s seen, more blood and thanks to the conspiracy theme it feels treacherous and worrying. The music seems to bubble away in the background adding to the fear and tension of the characters and thanks to the resurfacing of a threat from the first Captain America film we get little cameos from that movie that grow in scale to affect this film. It’s a good angle to take as out of everyone he is the hero that would face this sort of political injustice and insider corruption. I preferred it to ‘Iron Man 3’ but it seemed to lack something in entertainment value thanks to it’s serious commentary, but it’s so much better than the first one and boldly for a superhero flick doesn’t rely on over using CGI, rather nailing down on the espionage feeling genre which is good.
A great new change of style for the Marvel universe that still has it’s witty one liners but they’re pushed back slightly to make way for a story entangling Captain America in a web of lies and mystery. A thriller superhero film that throws back to the first film, threatens major characters constantly, references ‘Pulp Fiction’ and Sean Connery, a funny little idea when you realise how spy based this plot is. Heck there’s even someone from ‘Community’ in it who basically plays their character, it came at the wrong time though being funny just before a serious announcement in the movie and I couldn’t help but keep laughing as the plot carried on without me for a few seconds. It’s odd as now the S.H.I.E.L.D storyline in this could affect the constant journey of the Agents TV show but let’s see what happens. The mid-credits sting is sweet with some new arrivals in superhero terms but the post credits scene is not worth the wait really.
A step up from the patriotic first movie with fun and danger tossed in constantly leaving our hero to face an unnerving world that comes across well and kudos to fight sequences and a big showdown near the end you forget how serious is sometimes is and enjoy the ride of this superhero thriller.