Captain America — Winter Soldier a masterpiece

Tinashe Kusema Film review
The life is either black or white, one is either good or bad and there are no grey areas in-between, something that pulls the character away from reality. This in itself is his biggest strength and also his biggest weakness or Achilles’ heel. Last week saw the release of the latest and second, in this ever-growing franchise, Captain America — Winter Soldier and I have to say I admire how writers — Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely — took it upon themselves to address this and make a true masterpiece of a film in the process.

For Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), awakening after decades of suspended animation involves more than catching up on pop culture, it also means his old school idealism must face a world of subtler threats and difficult moral complexities.

This comes clearer when director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is killed by a mysterious assassin, the Winter Soldier, but not before warning Rogers that Shield has been subverted by its enemies.

When Rogers acts on Fury’s warning to trust no one there, he is branded a traitor by the organisation and so begins the game of cat-and-mouse but now, the cat is in mice clothing and he is not the only mouse. There are a few things that make this movie undoubtedly the best release in the Marvel Comics brand so far and I am going to go on a limb here and say this includes the Avengers.

First, I admired how writers Markus and McFeely explore the captain, addressing his many vulnerabilities, chief amongst them his worldly views on good and evil. There are many political undertones mostly based on America’s view on privacy, as a project is proposed that will see drones released into orbit with the sole purpose of monitoring earth and eliminating any potential threats.

The key word here is “potential”.
This in itself threatens people’s right to privacy hence the dilemma as the idea is mostly meant to prevent events like those of the New York incident in the Avengers movie. Add that to Captain America’s loneliness, as he is literally lost in time, the emergence of an old friend and enemy and you have one deeply troubled individual. While all this is happening, the captain is still required to rise above all and not only save the day but address the rot within his own organisation and avenge the death of his only friend. The plot and sub-plot surprisingly work in sync and offer enough suspense to keep the audience engaged for the film’s 136 minutes. The re-emergence of Hydra grounds the film and gives the film continuity rather than the usual mild references to the past, something that most franchises tend to employ during this day and age where creativity and new ideas are in great demand.

Performance-wise, Chris Evans offers more or less all we have come to expect from the character, an obnoxious and self important Steve Rodgers, aka Captain America. In a word, his performance is at best adequate as he nails all his stunts, corny one-liners and action sequences.

Fortunately for the movie, there are a lot of impressive supporting performances namely Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), newcomer Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) and Jackson’s Nick Fury.
Redford is a brand and at this juncture in his career requires special, complex characters.

Alexander Pierce is that and a whole lot more. As Pierce, Redford reminds everyone why he is such a highly regarded legend, bringing to life the new Hydra commander, who has risen to the top of the Shield’s chain of command and now wishes to destroy all his enemies from within.
His composure, presence and timing are second to none but it is star power that shines above all as Captain America — Winter Soldier became one of the most anticipated films of 2014 the minute it was announced that Redford would be on the project.

Their athleticism made their stunts look easy and effortless while their chemistry with the lead Chris Evans (Captain America), mostly used as comic relief, kept film both engaging and flowing so well.

Though I am not a big fan of commenting on sales, Marvel looks so much like the real deal that it might as well go down to sales to determine the best of the best.

In that regard, Captain America — Winter Soldier operating on a US$170 million budget opened on just over US$95 million on its opening weekend.

By April 8, the film was well on its way to raking in US$108 million.

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