Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Laura Clifford 
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Robin Clifford 

Still acclimating to his new world, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) finds himself having doubts about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) involvement in Project Insight, a soon to launch surveillance system formulated to stamp out trouble before it happens.  But Fury has his own reservations and when he asks the World Security Council's Senator Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) to delay it, he's hunted down.  Having been told by Fury to 'trust no one,' Rogers must figure out just who their seemingly invincible nemesis is in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

Laura:
"You, Me and Dupree" directors Anthony & Joe Russo (with Joss Whedon handling post-credit stinger duties) make a surprising team crafting Marvel's least comic booky installment to date.  With clear parallels to post 9/11 American loss of freedoms and the use of drones, writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely ("Captain America: The First Avenger," "Thor: The Dark World") tackle serious issues and wrap them in an action-packed, nostalgically patriotic package.

The film begins by introducing a new character in Marvel's world.  'Left,' huffs Rogers as he runs circles around a guy who will introduce himself as Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, "The Hurt Locker") and tell Rogers that everything he needs to know about the 70's onward will be found in Marvin Gaye's 'Trouble Man.'  Later, Rogers is angry when he discovers Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) downloading information for Fury during a hostage crisis, believing her priorities to be way off base, but when they lose their leader, that thumb drive will point the way towards long standing treachery.

The Russos use bold imagery to project their themes here, Rogers incognito at an opening of the new Howling Commando exhibit at the Smithsonian, mourning old friend Bucky Barnes, later foregrounded with Fury against a disturbing spread of military overkill.  Action sequences are big and bold, Natasha finally coming into her own here, one of many who will submit to Marvel's rite of self sacrifice.  The Winter Soldier himself is a long haired, black eyed Goth bandito with one silver, mechanical arm, so indestructible we begin to wonder if his origins spring from a similar place as Rogers.  He'll pop up to deliver the final blow after Fury's managed to dodge several hard hitting arms of a coordinated attack.  Once Steve's faith in Natasha's been restored, the trust net widens to include Sam, who'll become the Falcon in their rebellion against a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D., and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, TV's 'How I Met Your Mother,' "The Avengers"), a woman invested with secret knowledge (that's really not as much of a surprise as it should be).

The film is full of old faces, including the de rigeur Stan Lee cameo, but its message couldn't be more contemporary - sometimes one must take a stand against the very ideology one is part of to keep it true to its course.  Stick around for the post credit stingers, the first of which reveals just who S.H.I.E.L.D. will be up against next, the second suggesting you can't keep a good man down.

B+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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