*Originally written April 14th, 2016*
Definitely not the "political thriller" people seem to claim it is. Sure it has elements of this, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier really is just another Marvel affair, although it's one of the best efforts from them.
In Captain America's second solo outing S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised and he doesn't know who he can trust as a new villain emerges in the form of the 'Winter Soldier', a killing machine with ties to Cap's past.
I know it's widely considered so, but Winter Soldier is easily one of the best films in the MCU so far, top 3 material for sure. I wasn't a huge fan of the first Captain America film, so I was pleased at what huge step-up this one was.
The themes of national security play a big part here, although I feel it could have been explored a bit more, but whatever, this is a comic-book film, not a statement on society. The film asks what's more important, freedom or protection, but it never gives a clear answer either way, which is fine. This looks to be explored a lot more in the upcoming Civil War.
What Winter Soldier does better than any Marvel film to date is finally the first decent villain in the form of the Winter Soldier. He's a terminator sort of character, violent, scary and emotionless. He is way more intimidating than anything the MCU has had to offer before hand. It's just a shame that Robert Redford's bad guy was kinda boring and forgettable.
There are some cool nods to other Marvel films. I never even noticed at Dr. Strange got a mention in any of the other watches, but that's probably because he's still in my mind due to the recently released trailer for his solo film. Also gotta mention a fantastic cameo that was Abed from Community in a tiny role.
The action is also far more impressive and less "CGI smashy-smashy". There are some genuinely memorable action scenes like Nick Fury's SUV attack and the now iconic close quarter elevator fight. I'm the directors of this film are back for the next one, they have a talent for creative set-pieces.
I still really like Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America. Still the most likable of all the Avengers. He's modest and easy to get behind, unlike some of Marvel's other characters. Evan's brought the heart to this film, I've always liked the "man out of time" idea and he nails it pretty well, his fight at the end also feels like it has genuine weight to it, mostly thanks to the performance.
My only real complaints are it goes on a bit too long and my problem with all Marvel films. They don't look like films, they look like really expensive episodes of TV and really lack their own visual style, which is such a shame. That said, this looks a lot nicer than both the Avengers films.
The Winter Soldier is one of the most successful films in the MCU to date, filled with memorable set-pieces, Marvel's first decent villain (Outside their Netflix shows) and an engaging story.
Captain American: The Winter Soldier is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below: