I am not a comic book geek. That statement is in no way in disrespect for those who label themselves as such. It takes a certain level of dedication to know every nuance and minutia of their favorite superhero. I say this in an effort of full disclosure as my review is based solely on the film alone and not based on any prior knowledge of preconceived notions. My first deep exposure to Captain America was not in the first CAPTAIN AMERICA film but THE AVENGERS. Yes I know blasphemy to some but I just never had an interest in seeing the film. Even in THE AVENGERS I found him to be a pretty bland character. I attributed that to a combination of his role in the film as and the actor who portrays him Chris Evans. And hold on to your hats geeks, I only saw CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER until a day or so before I saw the sequel. I did not find that film all that enjoyable. In fact I thought it was somewhat cheesy. I did not have very high hopes for the sequel and despite the early good buzz for the sequel I was not expecting to like the film very much. I was wrong.
The film takes place two years after “the event in New York” and finds Steve Rogers AKA Captain America still working for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) and trying to find his place in a world that has literally passed him by. This is an interesting aspect of the character but the film barely devotes anytime delving into this. There is a brief sequence in which he visits The Smithsonian and sees an exhibit of Captain America’s history. The main purpose of this sequence is to set up events that will occur later in film. That is about all the time the film has for character development. The film is more concerned with action and intrigue and it delivers on both.
The first action set piece is very well made. He and fellow agent Natasha Romanoff AKA The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are assigned to a rescue mission to a save a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from pirates. This sequence shows both Rogers’ and Romanoff’s fighting skills and the whole sequence is very well staged. I also noticed a lack of CGI in this sequence. The next big action sequence is one of the film’s best. It involves and ambush and assault on Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) while he is enroute to a rendezvous. The sequence involves a high speed car chase, a shootout, and high-tech battering ram. The effects are done in camera and it at least to my eye was not aided by CGI. It is all very realistic and grounds the film in reality. The sequence ends with not only the best vehicle flip since the truck in THE DARK KNIGHT but also introduces the film’s villain, The Winter Soldier.
There is a great deal going on in the film plot wise. It is more a spy thriller/action film rather than a superhero movie. The plot is bit talky and complicated but I was able to follow it. However the film seems to be more concerned with advancing the Marvel Cinematic Universe than being a complete stand-alone film. That is not to say that is not good entertainment. The definite strength of the film is the villain. As with all action pictures they are only as good as their bad guy and this film has a winner with The Winter Soldier who may remind some viewers of The Terminator. He is virtual no talk all business and seems to possess the same strengths as Captain America. Though they are fundamentally opposite they are physical equals. Another of the film’s strength is the limited use of CGI in the films action set pieces which are mostly car crashes/chases and shootouts. Similar to THE DARK KNIGHT the action sequences are shot on real city streets and aids in giving those set pieces a realistic look. These are some of the best action sequences I have seen a quite a while. The film’s biggest weakness.enough Winter Soldier. I have a theory as to why there is a lack of screen time for the villain. His identity is supposed to be a surprise to the character and I believe the audience. Well at least a surprise to a novice like me. He is not one of those “talky” villains as he speaks thru his actions. Like The Terminator he has very little dialogue in the film. Another weakness is the film is overstuffed with characters that may or may not play future roles in future Marvel movies. Will Rogers’ new found friend Sam AKA Falcon (Anthony Mackie) join him for future adventures? I certainly hope so. Then there are the characters played by film legend Robert Redford and television star Emily VanCamp. Sometimes you need a flow chart to keep it all straight. Sometimes Rogers feels like a supporting character in his own film but the action sequences make up for the time that spent on exposition.
Overall this is a really good film. The action sequences are first rate though I would have like to have seen a little more insight into the Steve Rogers/Captain America character. I would also liked to have seen more of the villain do his thing as well. The film is not very “super” which is an aspect that I liked. Fans of course will eat this film up though there is lot for non-fans to enjoy here as well. Though you might want to brush up on your Marvel knowledge before seeing this. I am sure I missed a few in-jokes and references but hey as I said I am not a comic book geek. Any film that has a sequence that has a montage set the Marvin Gaye’s TROUBLE MAN will always get a Thumbs Up in my book! As the end credits say “CAPTAIN AMERICA Will Return in THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. In the meantime can we get a Black Widow movie? Please!
As Marvel fans know, stay for the credits. I will say no more.