Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A marvel indeed! 

Despite being their first avenger, Captain America has probably been Marvel’s least successful superhero. However directors Anthony and Joe Russo seem to have struck gold with its sequel ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier.’

Asking for more

The sequel is a character driven story. Nick Fury is losing control of S.H.I.E.L.D. to sinister outside forces. His clearances seem to be flickering out just as Operation: Insight, an obscenely expensive plan to construct a fleet of massive hovering battleships, is reaching its completion. Meanwhile, fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. administrator Alexander Pierce tries to counteract resistance from a skeptical World Security Council. This makes Steven Rogers unexpectedly and undeservedly a wanted man. When S.H.I.E.L.D turns against him he and his partner in crime, Natasha Romanoff, learn that HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and, like the neo-Nazis they’re meant to represent, plan to orchestrate a mass extermination of “undesirables” using the airships.

Writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus have made the script delightfully ironic in certain instances. One such moment is when Rogers argues with Fury saying, “You’re holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection.” Such witty dialogs not only stir interest but also bring on the smiles.

The tension between Fury and Rogers immediately comes to light during the opening set piece in which Rogers, Ramanoff and a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D agents take on a pack who has hijacked a ship. This keeps the audience at the edge of their seats asking for more.

Alive and kicking

The climax of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ occurs when Rogers is locked in an energy fuelled battle with the Winter Soldier. Amid the skull shattering blows he manages to unmask his opponent to make the shocking revelation that he is actually locked in combat with his former WWII best friend ‘Bucky’ Barnes. Though the Winter Soldier gazes blankly back at him we later learn that the encounter has an impact on him. A few episodes down the line we see that memories are triggered in Bucky’s memory. However his handlers quickly strap him down and wipe out his memory.

Though some of the scenes seem to be repeats from Marvel’s previous successors, the filmmakers manage to keep the action alive and kicking so that the audience does not have time even to bat an eye lid. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow is especially effective in such episodes. She often overshadows even the protagonist with her action sequences.

Another noteworthy aspect in the film is that humour is inserted in the least expected situations. One such memorable incident is when Romanoff and Rogers are fleeing from S.H.I.E.L.D agents. They are forced to perform the roles of a newly engaged couple to throw the goons off their scent.

Despite being Marvel’s second longest movie, running for 136 minutes, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ never drags.

The real appeal

Unlike its predecessor ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ sees a more human side of Rogers. Though he throws a giant metal Frisbee around, Rogers is moulded more on the scale of Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan and James Bond. In episodes in which he is disarmed from his shield, he uses other objects like a knife to defend himself.

Evens seem at ease with his character. He sets off charm in the least expected moments and never lets you forget that though he is almost invincible, he does have his wimpy side. Such facts are revealed not only through flashbacks but also in moments when he hesitates to take action.

Johansson is amazing as Romanoff. She even manages to steal Even’s thunder at times. An equal to Rogers himself in terms of her importance to the mission, she delivers another killer turn. She has aptly been given ample screen time to perform her stunts as well as reveal a bit about her personality to the audience.

Samuel L. Jackson makes a fitting Nick Fury. He manages to keep up the suspense on whether he is using Rogers or whether he has truly laid his trust on him. Anthony Mackie is likable as Sam Wilson who it is later unveiled is also The Falcon. Instead of looking like it is straight out of a silly comic book, the filmmakers have used the character to entice the project. Robert Redford performs Alexander Pierce’s character with expertise.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ embodies the real appeal towards the studio’s flag-wearing hero. This may wards off the criticism that he is merely USA’s poster boy. This is a marvel by Marvel indeed! -Ruwini Jayawardana