I’m always a bit torn when it comes to Captain America, the first Avenger. Chris Evans wears the suit extremely well, but his storylines never seem to grab – or entertain – me the way Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) does. CA: Winter Soldier is thin on plot and heavy on fight scenes, so it’s more of a means to an end for advancing Marvel’s Avengers franchise and less of a stand-alone movie. Here’s the gist of the plot as far as I could discern:
Oh wait. First, a quick refresher: Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Evans) was a scrawny kid transformed by a super serum into a super-soldier during World War Two. At some point while battling the evil HYDRA organization, Steve fell into some ice. Fast forward a couple of decades, and a newly-defrosted Captain America is struggling to reconcile his time-honored morals, sensibilities, and tastes in music with what’s evolved in the modern world. It’s classic ‘fish out of water’ stuff.
Winter Soldier picks up with Steve living in Washington, on-call for missions with the covert agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s partnered with the kick-ass Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and together, the pair must figure out what’s behind a convoluted scheme that’s compromised the survival of S.H.I.E.L.D. – not to mention millions of innocent people around the world! They recruit a new ally along the way in the form of the ‘Falcon’ (Anthony Mackie). And then there’s Robert Redford as the head of the World Security Council, who may or may not be a bad guy.
The movie is at its most entertaining when poking fun at its own campiness, from a Smithsonian exhibit on the ‘history’ of ‘Captain America’, to Natasha’s concerns about Steve’s love-life, and the Falcon’s suggestions for the Captain’s music playlist. After all, our hero is out of practice in the romance department and a couple decades behind with the Billboard charts.
The movie is at its least entertaining during excessively long and repetitive battle scenes. Shoot ‘em up, blow ‘em up, chase ‘em on the ground, chase ‘em in the air. Shoot ‘em some more. It gets a bit old as the film crosses the two-hour mark.
Comic book junkies who know where the Avengers story has been – and where it is going – can, should and will see Captain America: Winter Soldier. And they’ll be rewarded with the now-requisite post-credits glimpse of what’s in store when the next Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron hits the big screen – in May, 2015.