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Captain America has never been one of the most interesting Marvel characters, though his recent movie incarnations have put a focus on Rogers as a conflicted character. After the flag-waving popcorn heroics of the first instalment, Rogers is now finding himself adapting to a new world very different from the one that he knows. The filmmakers know this, and so it’s not a surprise that Winter Soldier feels like a completely different genre to its predecessor.
The story sticks its feet in the camp of espionage and conspiracy, leading the characters down a rabbit hole of deception that contorts the story in fresh and unprecedented ways. The plot itself is wholly engaging and the twists and turns in the narrative keep the audience on their toes. Rogers’ role as the ‘Captain’ in the 21st Century makes him feel unfulfilled and archaic, and his arc is to regain the right to carry the title, and Evans has never carried the role better, managing to convey his internal struggle credibly. He is accompanied by Black Widow and the two share a strong chemistry together, and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is a visually interesting if not truly fleshed out character. Also, Robert Redford fits better into this new world than you’d ever envision, balancing charisma with a devilish focus and determination. The action scenes are just incredible, channelling more Bourne-esque style choreography, and is surprisingly violent for a film of this calibre.
The biggest downside is probably a lack of the Winter Soldier himself, a well-established and stimulating new character who isn’t utilised as much as he should be. The final act succumbs to the conventional CGI syndrome and becomes less interesting, but for the most part this is a brilliant and audacious new direction for this series to make. Civil War, build on this promise.