DIRECTOR: Anthony & Joe Russo
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson
SYNOPSIS: Steve Rogers/Captain America struggles to adjust to life in the modern world but when Nick Fury is overpowered by a mysterious assassin, he and Natasha Romanoff team up to stop an anti-terrorist organistation from trying to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel’s incredible run of form with films just keeps on rolling with the focus returning to classic superhero Captain America.
The shield-welding protagonist faces severe danger in a new world a long way from his old one in this bigger and brasser follow-up to 2011′s The First Avenger.
With Iron Man and Thor having to overcome new enemies in their own sequels, Cap is caught up in a darker scenario involving his own organisation which brings about various problems for him and his friends at S.H.I.E.L.D.
That and the vast amount of brutal action is what makes The Winter Soldier excel as a sequel as we find ourselves drawn into the murky world of greed and corruption in moments that echo the classic 1970s thrillers like The Parallax View and The Conversation.
That is why the casting of Robert Redford works well as the veteran actor produces a dark turn as the scheming S.H.I.E.L.D president Alexander Pierce. Given his lack of mainstream roles in recent years, it’s remarkable to see Redford continue to convey charm despite the dastardliness of his character.
As was the case with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the physical action is choreographed exquisitely as Steve and Natasha rely on hand-to-hand combat rather than their own superhuman powers to overcome various foes.
The crash-bang-wallop effects also remain in tact for some of the more CGI-laden moments which include a sensational car chase scene involving Fury being pursued by villainous police officers. This is only dwarfed by the climatic showdown which involves our heroes having to take down three heli-carriers to save the human race (again!).
But the film also does well to lend a tongue-in-cheek aspect to its serious tone as it incorporates some humourous references to modern day culture and other Marvel outings.
Chris Evans shines again as the heroic Captain and continues to generate an assured approach to his character whilst bouncing off his co-stars.
Fellow returnee Scarlett Johansson is utilised a lot more in this Marvel outing as she enjoys winding Steve up but also brings more physical presence to the table with her kick-ass scenes.
Anthony Mackie is also a welcoming addition as newcomer Sam Wilson, a war veteran who shares a superhero alter-ego of his own while it’s also refreshing to see Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders reprise their S.H.I.E.L.D roles.
The one stumbling block does come from the return of Hayley Atwell who dons old age makeup to portray the elder Peggy Carter. Though her brief scene with Evans is sweet enough, it lacks the emotional impact that made their romance so valuable in the original.
VERDICT: The post-Avengers films continue to thrive in Marvel’s latest spinoff sequel as America’s first superhero makes a daring and spectacular return to the big-screen.