Cap's Got His Groove Back!

Practice makes perfect. That saying is definitely true for the latest installment for the Cap! “Captain America: Winter Soldier” benefits from the films that have come before it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As the ninth installment in the franchise, the writing and direction has a formula that made me a fan of Captain America! (He used to be my least favorite in the Avengers...Thor has taken his place.)

More than likely if you’re reading this it’s not because you’re not planning on seeing the film. It’s probably because you want to know if it’s awesome or not. It is! The film starts with Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans) trying to find his way in the modern world. He runs into Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) or should I say runs past him a few times on his morning run. The two have some friendly banter that comes back later in the movie. Comedy in the MCU is something we’ve come to expect, but for the Cap it used to be a bit on the nose. Not anymore. The world feels more realistic and the dialogue is genuinely funny. 

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To summarize as quickly as possible, Cap and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) lead a mission on a hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D. ship. During the operation, Black Widow goes off mission and recovers some intel for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Fury isn’t able to get into the intel but learns that he’s a target after agents attack him. He hands the info off to Cap and tells him to trust no one before another attack on his life is carried out. It’s this command that leads Captain America and us as viewers throughout the majority of the rest of the movie. Who do we trust? Is everyone dirty? What intel is on the flash drive? These questions help root the film and push each scene forward.

As S.H.I.E.L.D. prepares to launch three huge warships to police Earth, led by Alexander Pierce (a nicely cast Robert Redford), Captain America also becomes a target of S.H.I.E.L.D. after not stating why Nick Fury visited him. With this putting Cap on the run, he has a short list of people he can trust. Enlisting the help of Black Widow and the Falcon (Mackie), the group tries to get to the bottom of the mystery and fight the mysterious Winter Soldier who stands in their way. 

The key to this film being great (amongst the MCU) is that it is grounded in realism. Rather than Captain America being a symbol of morality and a previous era, he just is. He is who he is as he navigates through the modern world. He stands for something and rather than the writing team beating us over the head with reminders, Cap just faces each situation with internal conviction rather than overt statements (that were made clear in the past). The action sequences in this film highlight Cap’s abilities with great choreographed scenes that allow him to physically shine as a juiced up human being. Samuel L. Jackson finally gets used in such a way to showcase his acting ability as well as comedic timing! Even Scarlett Johannson is more than a pretty face in this film, bringing a little more depth to her character. Mackie as The Falcon is a decent edition to the cast, and the graphics really make him look like a high flying falcon! These upgrades work for the movie in a positive way.

Marvel has the super hero movie business on lock right now. “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is another solid notch in a MCU belt that extends to the year 2028. The film is grounded in reality, and doesn’t rely on parlor tricks and extras to keep you hooked. The direction, writing, and acting are all on point in building Cap’s character, his slice in the Marvel Universe, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. I don’t think you need to see it in 3D or IMAX. 2D does the job just fine. If you’re planning on seeing the film, you won’t be disappointed!

Rating: B+

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.