The mightiest shield. So Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is trying his best to adjust to the modern world. Life isn’t making it easy, though, giving him a full plate with both external and internal threats. A mysterious masked man with a robotic arm simply know as The Winter Soldier hits the scene, and to top it off, S.H.I.E.L.D. itself may be completely compromised. Marvel has had a really good run with their entire cinematic universe, but 2014 was the high point to be sure. People still debate what is their best movie is, but it almost always comes back to either The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s so much about The Winter Soldier that works, and with the release of Civil War, I used it as an excuse to rewatch, as it was high time for a revisitation.
And this is coming from somebody who merely liked The First Avenger.
What elevates The Winter Soldier above the rest is the fact that it succeeds on so many levels. It works as a detective movie, it works as a character study, and it works as a superhero thriller. On top of all that, it also works as an intriguing espionage movie, an enticing mystery, and as a fun popcorn blockbuster. This is just jam packed with action, and the standout thing is that all of the action is well-filmed to the point where you can always tell exactly what is going on. It’s smartly written (especially in when you compare it with something like Thor 2), and while there is almost always intense action, it is broken up with well-placed, laugh out loud comedic relief to remind you that this is a comic book movie; it never forgets to lighten the mood, which keeps it from becoming overly dreary.
Yes, I am looking at you, Batman v Superman.
Like most Marvel movies, this does end with a giant battle in the sky, but that is just a nitpick. It features some smart commentary on homeland security, and it makes total sense that they got the Russo brothers to helm this. They were (at the time of release) better known for their work on some of the best comedy shows to hit television: Arrested Development and Community. They’re as intelligent as can be, and they totally know how to layer a story, whether it is on the small screen or big. I love Chris Evans as an actor, and I’m glad he had found success by the truckload playing Cap. The Winter Soldier is fun and exciting, and it is always doing something fresh at every turn with dynamite pacing. A tried and true measuring stick for movies is how often you check your watch during the runtime, and I’ve never once done that for any of the three times I’ve watched this 136-minute feature, which is absolutely saying something.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.