Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Old-School Patriot in a Wary Modern World
In this modern era, we can generally assume that somebody is watching us over at all times (interesting or not). Hidden cameras, spying satellites, mobile surveillance and there may be many other techniques – lurking inside the benighted rooms of NSA – to look over anyone considered as mistrustful. So, naturally a Superhero living in this era must have a trust issue. Steven Rogers aka Captain America is an old-fashioned soldier, whose principles are simple – fighting for freedom. But, how would this retro fighter survive in a conspiratorial world? “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) deals with this paranoia and blends it atop with the regular super heroics. Rather than being a brand extension, ‘The Winter Soldier’ gives us something original and it’s more like a thriller than a special-effects blowout.
Captain America is the most corniest and archaic ‘Avenger’ in the Marvel Universe. This USA poster boy likes to stress the importance of freedom and preaches us, ‘how great it is to be an American.’ He has spent a good part of his 95 years, frozen in a block of Arctic ice. So, he doesn’t have idea about the Vietnam protests, Watergate scandal or the values set in War-On-Terror America. After the Chitauri invasion in “Avengers”, Rogers (Chris Evans) now works as a valuable asset for SHIELD (a super-spy network). In the opening set-piece, Rogers and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) lead a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. mercenaries to take out a crew of French/Algerian pirates. Captain America finds out that this rescue mission has some other ulterior motive. He detests S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) for not sharing everything with him.
The plot gives some way to Rogers’ character development. He makes friends with a military guy (Anthony Mackie) and intensely studies some of the pop-cult totems. He vexes over the flexible ethics of intelligence agencies and doesn’t like the newly high-prioritized ‘Project Insight’ – a drone missile program devised to take out bad guys before they do evil. Meanwhile, Fury wants to hit pause button on Project Insight. He seeks permission from the senior official of SHIELD and a DC power player, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford). All of a sudden, Fury is brutally assaulted in broad daylight by an artificially enhanced assassin named ‘Winter Soldier.’ Rogers tries to figure out the men behind this hit and suddenly the spy agency itself becomes unstable, where the agents are angling to take him down.
Robert Redford, a veteran actor with liberal political views, has played the role of rogue hero, discovering truth, in the 70’s (“Three Days of the Condor”, “All the President’s Men”). So, it’s fitting to see him play the role of lead conspirator. His presence along with that of Samuel Jackson gives brainy counter-cultural viewpoints. The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely never crosses into the fashionable “darkness” of Nolan, makes an effort to plot its story on real-world issues. The script makes some indirect tributes to Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing and scrutinizes the NSA privacy-invasion scandal. The directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done well in the action realm, never getting repetitious or numbing. Except for climactic battle in the skies, most of the set-pieces are brawny, old-school fights and car chase scenes, which brings inside the center of action. Even though the special effects don’t casually destroy the skyline of a major city, there’s hell of a lot of body count for this sort of movie.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (136 minutes) concentrates on the characters and each of them has something meaty to do. It is engaging and refreshing for a Marvel Universe movie, and makes us anticipate the next full-cast hoedown, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” (In summer, 2015).