Captain America— The Winter Soldier

By now the formula is familiar. Lots of action, lots of chases, occasional snappy dialogue, but nothing too heavy. Good vs. evil writ large on the screen. But what if in the good their lurks evil, and what if the evil is manipulated good? And what if the price of security is freedom, the giving up of freedom?

The Marvel comic movie franchise which has been rolling along nicely for a considerable period of time, has increasingly attracted to it, because of its success, all kinds of notable and noteworthy actors, and in ‘The Winter Soldier’, we even get Robert Redford as the new heavy duty head of security, which even oversees SHIELD. Oh yes, and Scarlet Johansson as Natasha. This is the second in the reboot of this Marvel comic line (the first being entitled ‘The First Avenger’).

Despite all the glitz and glamor, and good actors and convincing CG, this episode is not one of the stronger horses in the Marvel movie stable and it goes on for 2 hours and sixteen moments. It is virtually not stop fighting and chasing. The essential plot is that Hydra, the old bad guys connected to the Red Skull and the Nazis, has somehow infiltrated SHIELD, even at very high levels and Captain America must find a way to root out this pernicious kudzu plant wrapping its tenacles around SHIELD, before its too late.

There are very few light moments, or romantic moments, or funny lines in this film. It’s all rather serious business. One does get a chuckle out of the cameo of Stan Lee as the security guard in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, but that’s pretty much all she wrote for humor.

In many ways Captain America was the most normal of the Marvel heroes. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, he wasn’t turned into a clay-mation figure, and the like. He was a semi-normal guy who was a WWII hero, who got woken up in the modern world, having lost a lifetime of living along the way, and most of his friends and family. There is a poignancy to this character which is only a little in evidence in one scene in this film. It’s too bad because so much more could be done with that side of his story.

It was kind of fun to see Robert Redford have an extended role in this film, even if he turned out to be a jerk, but even that didn’t make this episode really worth the price of admission, and especially not if you saw it in XD as I did. And just how long does one suspend one’s disbelief while one’s heroes get smashed to a pulp, thrown off buildings and out of planes, and yet somehow survive just fine? Inquiring minds want to know. While we await answers, I suggest you save your hard earned money and see the new Spiderman film, out in just a few days.

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