Sunday, May 18, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers Aka "Captain America" in a sequel to his first outing.

In this film, with an obvious nod to the 1970s political thriller films, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has made a deal with a senior SHIELD leader and military zealot Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) to install a preemptive strike missile system worldwide.

But not everything is tight and right in Avenger Land.

After a botched rescue mission involving Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and  Captain, Rogers contemplates giving up the Avenger team. He dons a hoodie and acts the role of civilian.

While doing some errands, Nick Fury  comes under a startling and epinephrine-filled attack within his impervious SUV that is worthy of a rip-roaring Saturday matinee or a whip crack by Indiana Jones. While the artillery spent is ear-numbing, the sheer invention of the onslaught is so tense that it borders the black humored and zany. The car chase alone races along the lines of Steve McQueen and Friedkin's "The French Connection." With races such as these, the film directors Joe and Anthony Russo are in good company.

Fury is forced to take refuge in Rogers' pad as he is badly wounded due to what can only be described as a bone crushing.

The Captain takes off after the assailant, a "winter soldier" who is three-quarters man with a metal arm (Sebastian Stan). This villain has dark goth looks reminiscent of Eric Draven in "The Crow."

He is unstoppable.

Needless to say, Captain is bereft.

Gradually it comes to light that Mr. Pierce is up to no good,  mad with power. Rogers and Black Widow find a secret SHIELD bunker from WWII that actually doubles as a station for neo-nazi operations. In a nice touch that echoes the cliffhangers of Spielberg and George Lucas, Black Widow ridicules the cumbersome 1960s era mainframes only to realize with an amazed horror that they pulse with a contemporary vibrance once a memory stick is inserted.

Lo and behold, the wheedling and weasel-like countenance of the notorious nazi Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) appears, albeit in a crudely digital but strikingly more creepy form. Zola remains as ever, the binary visage that you love to hate.

There is a solid subplot involving the main villain's past when he was a dear friend of Rogers during wartime that provides suspense and tension.

However, when Pierce's true colors come into play, this chapter of the red white and blue grows a little anemic with a the frequently played show of uber firepower between Good and Evil. The 70s flavor of "Three Days of The Condor" is touched upon, but some refreshing ambiguity to balance the all too familiar war machines in the air would be well served.

In spite of this, the singular hero of Captain America is near impossible to repel. Just the sight of him scampering about in retro allure is enough to overwhelm you with an ebullience of red and navy blue. Not since the original run of "Star Wars" has there been such a buoyant, suspenseful and enjoyable group of films.

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