wed 18/09/2019

Captain America: The Winter Soldier | reviews, news & interviews

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Can the Captain save SHIELD from the evil plans of HYDRA?

Chris Evans as the upstanding Captain, with Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff

The first outing of the re-tooled Captain America in 2011's The First Avenger was a bit of a hoot, thanks to its carefully-wrought 1940s setting and Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving portraying contrasting varieties of Teutonic craziness. Bringing the Cap into the present day after a 70-year slumber poses a few different problems, since he is quite literally a man out of time. It's really not that easy to take seriously a bloke who goes everywhere with a large tin shield clamped on his back, while everybody else has upgraded to hover-jets and laser-guided weapons.

Still, while The Winter Soldier is mostly another superhero movie pushing the boundaries of computer-generated mayhem, there are glimpses of some quite potent ideas lurking in the background. Fittingly for our post-9/11 world, the enemy now lurks within, and has a silver-tongued spokesman in the shape of Robert Redford as Secretary Alexander Pierce. Redford, channelling the late Senator Ted Kennedy at least insofar as hair and teeth are concerned, is a top politico and also a major shaker within SHIELD, the gang of superheroes who uphold, y'know, truth, justice and the American way (Redford with Chris Evans, pictured below).

But [SPOILER ALERT] true-blue Bob is in reality a black-hearted fifth columnist for the evil HYDRA. This organisation is a hangover from the Nazi era, and hell bent on subjugating the world in very much the same way as the neocon likes of Messrs Cheney, Rumsfeld & co were thought to favour, albeit even more ruthlessly. As Pierce puts it, "society is at a tipping point between order and chaos." HYDRA's plan is to freak everybody out so much with their War-on-Terror scaremongering that the citizenry positively welcome the protection of a fascistic war machine that won't hesitate to annihilate anybody who stands in its way.

Captain America naturally represents the traditional values of the so-called Greatest Generation, as America dubbed its stoic fighting men of World War Two. He's a black hats versus white hats guy, so when SHIELD boss Nick Fury (an imperious Samuel L Jackson, pictured below) starts promoting a brutal ends-justify-the-means philosophy, the Captain begins to wonder if he's working for the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Eventually it all boils down to the inevitable onslaught of high-tech set-pieces. The film opens with a brisk curtain-raising depiction of SHIELD operatives rescuing hostages from a gang of ocean-going pirates, in which the Cap blithely dives several thousand feet out of an aircraft onto the ship's deck, and it climaxes with a save-the-world battle against a fleet of sinister hover-carriers programmed to do HYDRA's bidding. The best part happens in between, namely a thunderous sustained assault on Nick Fury in his armoured SUV. Blasted from all sides by weapons of every calibre, he keeps fending off the inevitable with an arsenal of defensive gadgetry, and being Sam Jackson he never breaks a sweat.

Scarlett Johanssen smoulders laconically as Natasha Romanoff (or Black Widow) and Anthony Mackie straps on a set of wings to play The Falcon (pictured right), while the Cap'n is given extra food for thought when he's forced to battle against the Winter Soldier himself, who turns out to be his old comrade Bucky Barnes. Supposedly killed in World War Two, Bucky has been brainwashed and reactivated by the baddies as a kind of Universal Soldier. It's a shame they couldn't have found a more interesting Captain America though, because Chris Evans radiates all the charisma of a sliced Homepride loaf.

Overleaf: watch a clip from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

It's not that easy to take seriously a bloke with a large tin shield clamped on his back

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.