Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, based on a story by Ed Brubaker, and on characters created by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout
Running Time: 136
Date: 04/03/2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cap Trap

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finds life in the 21st century challenging. He seems daunted by the prospect of a relationship, but even worse is the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seems to be sending him on missions without telling him what's really going on.

This mistrust is deepened when Cap and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) learn about the existence of an evil organization, HYDRA, planted within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Add to that a powerful, mysterious new foe that goes by the name of "The Winter Soldier," plus the fact that Cap has now been put on the most wanted list, makes this a very bad day. Fortunately, Cap has some new help in the form of a Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

The first movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, looked great, but was somehow lacking in the character department as it unfolded its lengthy, convoluted origin story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier focuses more on character, which is great, but the brother directors Anthony and Joe Russo -- who take over for Joe Johnston -- are camera-shakers, and the action in this movie is sorely lacking. For some reason, whenever Cap throws his shield or a fist, the camera jerks alongside it, rather than simply following it.

Fortunately, the heart of the movie is still beating. Chris Evans has grown significantly in his role since The Avengers, and he's far more appealing here, going for the same kind of charming, simple quality that Christopher Reeve had in the Superman movies. He's ever so slightly uncertain, and he generates some warm chemistry with his co-stars, especially Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie. If only the movie had a little more downtime to spend with them.

Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

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