The Marvel movie juggernaut continues with the second outing for the standalone “Captain America” franchise.
After a light hearted start, where a new character is introduced (Anthony Mackie), we are thrown headlong into the action with a daring and extended hostage rescue from a pirate controlled ship in the Indian ocean.
No-one is a match for Steve Rogers A.K.A Captain America (Chris Evans) and his trusty shield. He is teamed up with film fan favourite, for obvious reasons, “The Black Widow” (Scarlett Johansson) providing help as and when required.
Meanwhile back at SHIELD headquarters, the organisation is building three enormous Helicarriers to provide “defense” against those elements that seek to destroy the status quo. Once deployed, these behemoths will autonomously destroy anything and everyone that threatens the American Way.
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is tasked with completing project Insight to allow the Helicarriers to be directed by satellites tracking “terrorists”. He is encouraged by Defence secretary Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who acts as chairman of a virtual World Security Council, responsible for making decisions at the highest level.
Taking the original “Mission Impossible” film storyline of subverting everything that has come before, the most dangerous threat to SHIELD comes from within. “Hydra” presumably referencing Greek mythology, lop one head off and another appears, is threatening to destroy everything Shield agents have been fighting to protect.
No one is safe, no one can be trusted.
This is classic conspiracy theory stuff and leads to a technically impressive car chase sequence, which introduces us to the “Winter Soldier” (Sebastian Stan), a character both new and old to Rogers.
As is usual with Marvel films, the production values and special effects are state of the art. No expense has been spared in making the action believable, through the use of various different effects.
Evans initially continues his previous square jawed, boy scout, simplistic 1940’s approach, but as the character starts to question peoples motives, he allows him to embrace the grey areas as doubts set in. Johansson is every comic book geek’s fantasy female character, tough, sexy and ruthless, she does not disappoint. Stan is the stand out baddie, cinematic, ruthless and ultimately aided by an unusually competent henchman.
Writers McFeely and Markus have managed to hide some deeper content within the story, a brave move in a studio tent-pole picture. Sacrificing your freedom for protection against “dark forces”, is all very well whilst you remain on the right side of that murky distinction. “Captain America” begins to question “just who are the bad guys?”, which is deep stuff for a superhero movie. The film is also notable for some brief quiet scenes where actors actually get to act, however those demanding constant action, will not have to wait long.
As usual there are question marks about full on assault weapon battles in an urban setting for a superhero movie but at least this grounded setting, does set the film apart from the more fantastic Thor and Iron Man outings.
After defying genre convention for most of the film, order eventually reasserts itself. The ending resorting to the usual mano a mano fist fight, which is de rigueur in any superhero film, despite other weapons at their disposal. Mackie’s character (a.k.a Falcon) is also arguably the weakest, coming across as somewhat superfluous and with some occasionally dodgy CGI.
Better than the first film whilst managing to sneak in deeper themes when the audience is distracted with big explosions.
This is as good as it gets in Superhero movies. Fun, exciting and well put together by directors Anthony and Joe Russo. Made with care, respect for the source material and most importantly, a consistent tone.
As usual the movie sets up the next episode as the closing credits roll, so keep watching.