Captain America: The Winter Soldier (12A)

Everyone’s favourite man in stars and stripes returns to the big screen to save the world once more. But without the help of his fellow Avengers how will he fare?

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), living quietly in Washington, D.C. trying to adjust to the modern world. At least that is how it looks from the outside, looking in.

Peace was never the Cap’s forte and the wartime yank continues to work for S.H.I.E.L.D and carry out the orders of director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Yet the longer that he works for Fury the more his trust in the man diminishes. His misgivings multiply when senior agent Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) reveals his agenda.

When a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

S.H.I.E.L.D is house to not one, but three state-of-the-art drone gunships in its basement. Fury uncovers a conspiracy relating to the drones and becomes the target of an elite assassin, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), whose own masters (to anyone in the film, at least) are not immediately identifiable.

The hero struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy whilst fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). They soon find themselves up against the Winter Soldier fighting for the lives of millions.

The US government plans to send thee drone gunships to the Middle East, where they can bullseye anyone they take a dislike to from on high. But our patriotic hero isn’t about to let that happen on his watch.

As Cap bounces from one clue-gathering site to the next, the film summons up no real sense of paranoia, or even that much is at stake. The movie’s thundering centrepiece, a mass shoot out in broad daylight, is fun in the moment, but doesn’t really fit in with the plot.

I found the movie over-long and the storyline very drawn out. If directors Anthony and Joe Russo had put as much time into the development of the story as they did with cringe-worthy puns then Winter Soldier would have been a more rounded movie.

The action sequences were exhilarating, but to a point. They were so long that you were left hoping it would just subside regardless of the victor.

Newcomer to the Avenger franchise Emily VanCamp made her transition from television star (Revenge) to the big screen with ease. The transformation was reminiscent of Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively in Green Hornet, only with some real acting in and a hell of lot less hair flicking and gazing lustfully into the camera.

Could it be that the Marvel franchise has become too wrapped with its own success to concern themselves with the quality of their ventures? It seems that time, much needed investment and the four other, hopefully less cliché, Avengers films currently in production will tell.

I am not holding my breath.

By Ruth Walker
★★★☆☆

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