Good points: Good plot dealing with the relationship between SHIELD and HYDRA since World War II. Kudos to the script writers for calling out the "rule by fear" strategy that is such a real part of world politics. The "Insight Initiative" is the "drone fear"-airborne, deadly, watchers-extrapolated and writ large into a Godzilla-sized nightmare. The events will have a profound effect on the future of the Marvel movie universe.
Good character development and exposition, especially on the part of Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Nicholas Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Chris Evans, as Steve Rogers, continues to develop a solid, very likeable and believable character. A very good entry by Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, and nice work by Robert Redford as SHEILD's civilian boss.
Special effects and design continue to impress. The Marvel films and ILM are doing for the depiction of technology what Peter Jackson's Middle Earth movies have done for fantasy. The new SHIELD heli-carriers are beautiful in a terrifying way, and I liked the logical extension of Marvel Universe technology that made them plausible-they use Stark Industries "repulsor jets"-i.e., Iron Man tech-in order to fly. Sam's Falcon wings merge science fiction with real-life "Jet Man" flying.
Good super-fighting: The one-on-one combats between Captain America and Batroc (Georges St.-Pierre) and Captain America and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) were done with enhanced speed that I thought believably portrayed what combat between such supermen would be like. (I was also pleased to see an updated Batroc. One of Captain America's oldest comic-book sparring partners, he was always a faintly ridiculous character, but had a typically French panache that I enjoyed.)
Not-so-good points: TOO much violence. I guess I don't have the tolerance level for smashing and shooting that the typical young American has, but I thought I was pretty good. Nevertheless, I was weary of it all by the time the film was over, and it seemed longer than its 134 minutes. It's a bad sign when a film has two long car-chase and gun-battle sequences. The first one, when Hydra operatives attempt to assassinate Fury, shows the bad-guys' daring, ruthlessness, and viciousness, as well as showcasing SHEILD technology. The second one, which had only the plot purpose of bringing Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier briefly face to face, could have been accomplished in one-tenth the time and with far less destruction of rolling stock. The climactic battle, which is appropriately spectacular, was lengthened by Falcon's flashy but frankly stupid aerobatics which convinced me that, whatever else he had been, 'combat pilot' was not in his resume.
And, frightening as the "Insight Initiative" may be in principle, the actual proposed implementation is rather ludicrous and not believable.
There are a few other quibbles: The Winter Soldier is a Soviet-era Russian creation, so it's strange that ex-KGB agent Black Widow knew nothing about him until he surfaces as an opponent.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is Marvel's homage to the action-intrigue adventure, acknowledged by the music track, which has distinct "Bond in action" themes, and the graphics of the end-title sequences which also have a classic "James Bond" appearance. This is a very good-but not great-action/adventure movie, well worth seeing for fans of the genre, and a must-see for those following the Marvel movies.
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