I wanted to do two reviews of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier: This one will be spoiler-free and focus more on the cinematic roots of the movie, while the second one (I’ll post it tomorrow) will dig into the comic roots of the story and reveal some of the Easter Eggs which are deftly planted throughout the movie.
Before I get too far into the review, let’s get the important bit out of the way: I LOVED THIS MOVIE ! The other phase two releases I enjoyed mostly because of the reactions of others – my wife and son loved Iron Man 3 and I enjoyed their enjoyment of it, despite some elements I was less than impressed with. Same with Thor 2, which was full of plot holes but adored by my daughter, so I liked it too. Cap 2, however, I just flat out loved because the film itself was so damn good !!! I give it a 4.5 stars out of 5.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed the movie so much was the way it succeeded in making a movie that was, as Kevin Feige described it “a 70s spy thriller, with a superhero thrown in”. This was a movie which had more in common with the Le Carre adaption I mangled in the title than with, say, a Spider-Man film. It was a film whose roots lay in the great spy/espionage thrillers like Three Days of the Condor, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and – appropriately given the introduction of a new hero, The Falcon and the Snowman.
Like those films, The Winter Soldier is chock-full of betrayals, twists, fakes, double crosses and investigation of clues. From the outset we have the Black Widow enacting a mission within a mission, Nick Fury being coy with information and a mysterious Macguffin (in this case a USB drive) which propels the action going forward. We also have an enemy who is relentlessly capable yet cloaked in mystery, an operative who “was spoken of in whispers” and “believed to be a myth” according to our own super spy Black Widow.
The plot works very much like a spy thriller too, with some action interspersed with exposition and investigation before an action-packed climax sees the world saved and the heroes changed.
So, I loved this movie not because it features my favourite superheroes (Captain America, the Black Widow and Falcon) but also because it is a great spy thriller in the mode of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy – albeit with less manilla folders and more action.