Marvel Captain America: The Winter Soldier
dir Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
prd Kevin Feige
scr Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
with Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L Jackson, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo, Cobie Smulders, Emily VanCamp, Jenny Agutter, Toby Jones, Callan Mulvey
release UK 28.Mar.14, US 4.Apr.14
14/US Marvel 2h08
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Heroes in black: Johansson and Evans

mackie jackson redford
Captain America (2011) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Captain America: The Winter Soldier This is the moment when Marvel jumps the rail from movie franchise to big-screen TV series. While expertly made on every level, nothing about this film stands on its own. Characters behave in inexplicable ways as events unfurl only to place our heroes in position for the next episode. In other words, it's wildly entertaining action mayhem, but there isn't a moment of true suspense.

Scientifically augmented soldier Steve Rogers (Evans) is fitting in well in the 21st century as a key national security operative for Shield. But when goons attack director Nick Fury (Jackson), and the seemingly indestructible "Winter Soldier" appears on the streets of Washington DC, it's clear that the ground-rules have changed. Now running rogue from their own colleagues, Steve and fellow hero Natasha (Johansson) team up with sparky veteran Sam (Mackie) to find out what's going on. Meanwhile, top boss Pierce (Redford) is preparing to launch an overwhelming show of strength.

The surehanded way Marvel spools its comic book stories is impressive, as Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers and Hulk feed into an overarching mythology. Each movie involves plucky supercharged heroes saving the world , and there's a connection between all of these near-catastrophes. This film's one revelation is the existence of shadow agency Hydra, setting up the next round of clashes. It also introduces Bourne-style action that feels more urgent and organic.

But all of this means that we know the villains will never get away with their nefarious plans, they'll also never be properly vanquished, and none of the heroes are in real jeopardy. So our pulses never quicken as we watch these displays of astounding effects artistry in massive, well-staged set-pieces. As millions of bullets are incapable of hitting anyone, the superior cast members make the most of characters who now have even bigger back-stories.

Evans is settling nicely into his role as good-guy Rogers, reeling off one-liners with the best of them. But it's Johansson and Jackson who get the meatier roles here, surprising us with mercurial moods and subtle physicality. Redford is terrific as a slippery executive, while Agutter steals the show in the film's best moment. So in the end, we laugh and cheer at the harmless fun, but we never properly engage because we know they'll be back soon to save humanity again.

cert 12 themes, strong violence 13.Mar.14

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