Immediately after the events of Avengers Assemble, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) finds himself working for SHIELD, and almost happy about his assignments. That is, until SHIELD is attacked, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is injured and a new enemy is revealed; a man known only as The Winter Soldier. Cap teams up with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to discover more about a plot that threatens to engulf the world.
If the first Captain America film was a nostalgia piece filled with pastiche and homage, then The Winter Soldier is a political spy thriller centred on SHIELD and the agents within. Many of our favourite Avengers and SHIELD agents make appearances throughout the film, and there are plenty of quips and one liners along the way, as well as action, mystery and intrigue.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay places Cap and SHIELD firmly at the centre of the story, and focuses the narrative on choices that Cap made in the past that are coming back to haunt him. The connectedness of the whole story is great, and is what makes the film work. On the other side, however, thee is a deeply involed and complicated plot involving everyone we have come to know and trust, with some new villains thrown in for good measure. The audience often finds itself as out of its depth as Cap is in the 21st century, and although everything is revealed and almost tied together in the end, it is easy to pick holes in the plot, which is obviously part of the set up for Avengers: The Age of Ultron.
All of the cast camp it up, superhero it up and show the requisite amount of pluck throughout the film, and the bad guys show no fear in taking their badness and running with it. All of this serves to make Captain America: The Winter Soldier a whole lot of fun, action and performances wise. Anthony Mackie in particular seems to have a lot of fun as Cap’s new sidekick The Falcon, and he brings some charisma and fun to the role, as well as the film as a whole.
As well as this, the action scenes are a whole lot of fun, and the final fight is as over the top and ridiculous as you could hope for. The Winter Soldier himself feels rather underused, seeing as his memory is consistently wiped, but hopefully he will have more to do in the future.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a completely different film to the one that went before, becoming more of a political thriller than anything else. The comedy is significantly dialled down here, but there are some nice connections made and some good cameos. The trouble is that the pacing is a complete mess and the running time makes the film feel rather drawn out.