Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans (Fantastic Four and Cellular),
is still a man out of time. He was taken from 1944 to 2011, nearly 70
years removed. He meets Sam Wilson, played by Anthony Mackie (Pain and Gain and The Hurt Locker).
Sam Wilson is notable in comic book history as the first,
African-American superhero in mainstream comics. It's just great that
with all the out-of-time jokes between Steve and Sam that screenwriters
Christopher Markus and Stephen Mcfeely (The Chronicles of Narnia) didn't do any obvious racist humor.
The first action sequence is basically Captain America meets Captain Phillips. Whereas people criticized that Tom Hanks film for glorifying the military might, at least here you have Steve Rogers rejecting the increased military muscle in the form of advanced drone technology that Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, flexes. Of course, Steve Rogers aka Captain America will always be patriotic and want to defend this country but he's not so jingoistic, or subscribes to the doctrine many believe inherent in things like the Patriot Act or what Edward Snowden revealed about the NSA, that of sacrificing freedom for security.
Even though the opening scene has Steve trying to embrace the things of the modern-era like the Internet, the rest of the screenplay by Markus and Mcfeely has Steve constantly having to deal with the things of his past. Steve visits the Smithsonian where there literally is a museum exhibit of his past. He goes to New Jersey where he was initially trained as a soldier. He visits his old girlfriend who now is supremely old. He even discovers that the origin of a global conspiracy to kill millions of people all begin with an old computer that looked like it still used vacuum tubes.
I might be alone, but, comparing it to the others like Iron Man and Thor, as well as the previous Captain America film in 2011, I think Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best Marvel Studios film to date, even besting The Avengers. I say so because it basically does what Joss Whedon's film does but strips it down to a more personal plot with ideas that are more relevant to our current world and thankfully employs the two most interesting characters from The Avengers, Captain America and Black Widow.
When it comes to the fictional organization, known as S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America as portrayed by Chris Evans, and his leadership role in it was always the most compelling and conflicted, and back during The Avengers' release, a lot of talk surrounding the Black Widow, as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, was how well-written it was and how amazing Johansson acted in that role. People were amazed with Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, but the Black Widow drew more praise. Therefore, to have the movie center Captain America and Black Widow together is already a winner to me.
I like how the villain has more of a personal connection to Steve. I like how the movie turns something we previously trusted into question, as it should be. I like and in fact love Scarlett Johansson in everything she did. I like how the premise of the evil scheme is basically the anti-premise for CBS' Person of Interest. I liked all of the action scenes and dramatic moments. All of which had me on edge.
The Nick Fury and Knight Rider in a SUV sequence was a nice thrill-ride. The attack on the bridge that leads to the reveal of the Winter Soldier's identity was extremely well-staged yet ridiculous. There is a tense standoff over launching weapons that reminded me of the climax to Crimson Tide (1995). The final fight between Captain America and the Winter Soldier also had the power of the final fight in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
Aside from all the TV cameos like Emily VanCamp from Revenge and Danny Pudi from Community, Robert Redford is in this film. Ironically, there is a shot at the end of this movie that mirrors a shot at the end of Redford's last movie All is Lost (2013). It's a climatic shot of a man sinking in water and a hand reaching to pull him out.
Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 15 mins.