This is the Marvel movie that divides the fans from the casual filmgoers, as the movies become more like a TV series in which the world is saved from disaster every week. While it's shot and acted to an unusually high standard, the script treats the characters like pawns to throw at each other rather than real human beings. So while it's hugely entertaining, there isn't a hint of actual tension or suspense.
Now settling into life in the 21st century, super-powered soldier Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his cohort Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) are horrified when the mysterious, seemingly indestructible Winter Soldier launches an attack on Shield Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) on the streets of Washington DC. Suspected of being on the wrong side, Steve and Natasha set out to find out what's up, drafting in angry veteran Sam (Anthony Mackie) and his whizzy flying-wings accessory. Meanwhile, Shield boss Pierce (Robert Redford) is carrying on with launching a wildly heavy-handed security system for America.
Marvel show-runner Kevin Feige works hard to make these movies fit loosely into the overarching mythology while standing on their own. But this is the ninth time these superheroes have had to save the world since 2008's Iron Man, and it's getting a bit tired. This chapter introduces a perviously unseen darkness in the evil agency Hydra, but the real innovation here is the use of gritty Bourne-style direction for the lucid action sequences.
Yes, the film looks amazing, with seamless effects even on a massive scale. And the cast is strong enough to infuse the mayhem with a sense of character complexity and developing interaction even if we know no one is in real danger. Johansson has the best role this time, which is promising for a possible Black Widow movie. And Mackie's character also has untapped potential, while Jackson gets a lot more to do than usual and Redford shows some terrific acting chops in a small but pivotal role. Still, the film is stolen by Jenny Agutter in the only surprising moment. And that's what this series needs more of.
Run time: 136 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th April 2014
Box Office USA: $259.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $712.6M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI), Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Perception
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 215 Rotten: 26
IMDB: 7.9 / 10
Producer: Kevin Feige
Starring: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Sebastian Stan as James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes / The Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Georges St. Pierre as Batroc the Leaper, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Jasper Sitwell, Alan Dale as World Security Council member, Stan Lee as Security Guard, Jenny Agutter as Councilwoman Hawley, Garry Shandling as Senator Stern, Danny Pudi as Com Tech #1, Chin Han as Councilman Yen, Bernard White as Councilman Singh, Pat Healy as Scientist #1