DrBrooklyn's Captain America: The Winter Soldier Breakdown and Review (Spoiler Heavy)

DrBrooklyn's Captain America: The Winter Soldier Breakdown and Review (Spoiler Heavy)

Breakdown and review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier-- warning: Contains heavy spoilers and sequence of events of the film may not appear in the order. Enjoy and please leave a comment.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Breakdown and Review

Trailers:  Expendables 3 (August 2014), Lucy (8th August 2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (8th August 2014), Blended (23rd May 2014), Maleficent (30th May 2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (1st August 2014)

*Warning Spoilers*

             Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the second installment in the Captain America franchise and quite possibly the strongest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film effectively blends action, thriller, and comedy throughout its 136 minute runtime. Extending off the original Captain America: The First Avenger it further defines who Captain America is as a hero and uses his personal conflict of figuring out his purpose in contemporary times.
           It picks up after the original film with Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) now living in Washington D.C. trying to adjust to modern times after the discovery he has been frozen for 70 years. A conflict that was not heavily addressed in the ensemble Avengers film. We immediately recognize the improved comedic writing over past Marvel films with Steve Rogers jogging outside the capitol. He makes several passes (“on the left”) on Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie). They share a common issue of post military experience and trying to adjust to life. Rogers who is a WWII vet and superhero trying to get used to modern times and redefining his purpose as a soldier. Wilson who is also a war vet and involved in secret rescue missions apparently has his own post war issues as revealed when Rogers runs into Wilson at a P.T.S.D. support meeting.

            The first action sequence is well done and serves as a precursor to how much the choreography has improved in Cap’s fighting. Cap’ along with his S.H.I.E.L.D. partner Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson) and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillow) on a rescue mission aboard a ship taken over by French pirates. From the moment Cap’ boards the ship we are treated to a more impressive Captain America than seen in both The First Avenger and the Avengers. He is faster, more hard-hitting, and utilizes his shield in more creative and effective ways. This action scene was so impressive a late movie goer stumbled right into the middle of Cap’s fight scene with the main pirate and mistaken it’s intensity for the ending of the movie.
            These sequences are also littered with great rapport building between Romanoff (Black Widow) and Rogers which continues throughout the movie. What’s so effective about these moments between Romanoff and Rogers is that it’s done in a not so cheesy way. They portray a genuine friendship consisting of quips, interest in each one’s personal lives, and friendship. What’s also effective about the collaboration between the two is that they play off one another’s differences to their advantage in the field.
            We then see Rogers (hiding in plain sight) visiting an exhibit celebrating his Captain America persona and WWII achievements. Rogers feels slight nostalgia but it is overshadowed by his sadness and remorse of knowing many people from his past are now dead or close to death. Including his love interest from the original film Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who is now bed ridden and close to death suffers from severe Alzheimers. In a touching scene she repeatedly rediscovers Rogers is now alive and well, not dead as she originally thought at the end of the original film.

            One of the most unexpected yet rewarding aspects of the film is Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (played by Samuel L. Jackson) has plenty of screen time and is further explored then past Marvel films. Rogers confronts Fury about the inner motives of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and his overall distrust of Fury. Fury discloses why he not so quick to put trust in others hinting at past experiences in the field (referring to his eye wound). Fury gains possession of a USB drive which holds data on a secret initiative of the organization. Unable to gain access past the encrypted data on the drive Fury asks for help from a fellow organization board member Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford).     
            While in transit in his technological security advanced S.U.V. Fury is ambushed by what appears to be police and S.W.A.T. forces. This sequence is one of the best in the movie; intense, suspenseful, edge of your seat thrilling. It almost reminds me of a scene out of The Bourne trilogy, a suspenseful action thriller sequence. Using a battering arm to penetrate Fury’s advanced security S.U.V. door we witness the door’s stability go from 30%, 19%, finally to 1% before he uses his vehicles machine gun turret to mow down the threat at the very last second. Once the vehicle is able to become mobile, Fury narrowly escapes only to confront the (seemingly) main antagonist of the film the Winter Soldier who appears standing alone in the middle of a city street. Winter Soldier uses a projectile disc explosive that attaches to Fury’s vehicle undercarriage exploding and flipping over the vehicle in an awesome sequence. Fury narrowly escapes from his vehicle before the Winter Soldier is able to make it to him.

            We then see Rogers return home to his D.C. apartment running into his neighbor Kate and realizing someone is waiting for him in his apartment, enters through the fire escape. Here he encounters Fury again who is wounded from his encounter with the mock police force and the Winter Soldier. Knowing the apartment is bugged (later he is told Fury is the one who bugged Roger’s apartment). Fury communicates with Rogers through text on his phone expressing he believes S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised and no one is to be trusted. Fury is then struck with several bullets from a shooter in a building across the street. Leaving Fury critically wounded Rogers goes after the shooter in a crazy foot chase using his shield to break through walls in an office building. Rogers throws his shield at the shooter who is revealed to be the Winter Soldier and it is realized he is evenly matched as the Winter Soldier catches the shield, forcibly tosses it back, and escapes off a roof top.
            We see Fury in critical condition in a S.H.I.E.L.D. operating room with Rogers, Romanoff, and Maria Hill (Fury’s right hand agent) watching helplessly as Fury flatlines and seemingly dies of his wounds. Rogers is confronted by Pierce at the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and questions why Fury was in his apartment at the time of the shooting. Rogers runs into his neighbor Kate at the organization who is revealed to be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent 13.
            It’s at this point of the film where it is confirmed by Rogers that there is a seedy infiltration at the core of the S.H.I.E.L.D organization and the conspiracy element of the film unfolds. Pierce brands Rogers as a fugitive and sends the entire organization after him. Another tense and well shot moment Cap narrowly escapes capture in an elevator full of S.H.I.E.L.D. field agents including Rumlow. In possession of the USB Fury was trying to decrypt earlier in the film, Rogers teams up with Black Widow. Romanoff shares similar uncertainly with Rogers about her purpose within the organization and she comes to the conclusion she  previously encountered the Winter Soldier in a past mission. One critique of this film is the lack of explanation of the whereabouts of Hawkeye, who seemed to be Black Widow’s partner within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in the Avengers film. Why he was missing and unable to assist Rogers and Romanoff in this film will likely be explained in the Avengers sequel, but I felt it should have naturally come up in mention.

            The reveal of who’s behind the corruption of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization is one of the more surprising elements of the movie and completely changes the MCU as far as the Avengers goes. Tracking down the source of encrypted USB devices brings Rogers and Romanoff to the base camp Rogers was training at as a recruit U.S. soldier in the original, before he was injected with the super soldier serum. They discover a hidden control room within the base which holds a linked, dated computer system. Inserting the USB device to the computer loads up an A.I. system familiar to Rogers from the original film. Zola, the German (well Swiss) scientist who worked for Johann Schmidt (Red Skull) after captured by the United States during WWII mind was kept alive through reverse brain engineering. Hydra (the rogue German science group from the original) used Zola’s artificial Intelligence to keep researching weapons for Hydra. Specifically a weapon which uses an algorithm to eliminate known and future threats to Hydra’s initiative. A few Easter eggs reveals names such as Tony Stark and Dr. Stephen Strange. Soon after discovering Hydra’s secret plan S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Hydra) locks in on Rogers and Romanoff’s location and launches a missile which destroys the Zola control room.

            Successfully escaping Hydra’s latest attempt on their life Romanoff and Rogers decide to go to the one person who they feel they can trust, Sam Wilson. They disclose to Wilson what they have discovered about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Wilson volunteers to help presenting a “resume” of sorts, which reveals Wilson has a little more experience than he originally led Rogers to believe. And can even help using a special para-soldier pack which enables Wilson to fly by propulsion and mechanical wings. In route the trio of heroes Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson are attacked by the Winter Soldier and S.H.I.E.L.D. field agents. The epic second encounter between Rogers and the Winter Soldier shows more of the improved fighting choreography of Cap in this installment in hand to hand combat, and knife fighting. Amidst the fighting Winter Soldier removes his mask for Rogers to reveal he is Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Roger’s friend from his WWII days and who joined Cap’s group of Howling Commandos in the original film. Rogers recognizes his old friend and tries desperately to jog Bucky’s memory. Bucky slightly does remember and Rogers. Romanoff, and Wilson are captured.

            We then see a scene which shows the inner workings of Hydra (or at least Hydra based in the U.S.). Bucky starts articulating that he remembers who Steve Rogers is and we see from Bucky’s POV how he became the Winter Soldier. The experimentation that was done to him in the original where Cap finds him during the rescue mission was part of the process. He is then found by Hydra after seemingly falling to his death in the train scene, he is transformed, given a metal arm (his original arm was likely damaged in the fall), then frozen for a number of years. Before he could completely piece together his memory, Pierce instructs to have Bucky’s memory “re-wiped” and start over.
            In capture Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson are in transport to their death and burial site where they are rescued by agent Maria Hill. She takes them back to a secret location where it revealed that Nick Fury is alive and well. Hill and Fury staged his death so Hydra would cease attempts on his life. Rogers, Romanoff, Wilson, Hill, and Fury concoct a plan to stop the Hydra algorithm weapon before it kills thousands of people. The Hydra weapon works when three S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier ships gain altitude and triangulate a signal which launches the weapons at known and future targets. Fury has a chip which can reverse the weapon’s targets to eliminate Hydra instead. Rogers is conflicted on how to approach Bucky (The Winter Soldier), whether or not face him as an enemy or foe. Wilson reassures Rogers that Bucky is now an assassin for Hydra and should be treated as so.
            After acquiring a new Cap suit taken from the Captain America exhibit he visited earlier in the film, Cap sneaks back into the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and uses an intercom to declare his innocence to members of the unbeknownst organization. It’s here that Evans really captures the persona of who Captain America is. A scene that could have easily come off as cheesy or ridiculous; writers Markus, McFeely, Russo brothers directing, and superb believability by Evans make this scene both inspiring and moving. With assistance from Agent 13 who puts Rumlow in a Mexican stand-off situation at the control station, the lift off of the carriers is temporarily postponed, before Pierce overrides the delay.
            Pierce holds a boardroom meeting of Government agencies at the headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D., they overhear Cap’s speech and learn Pierce is involved in Hydra. In a surprising turn of events before Pierce can eliminate them, an older lady of Government board kicks butt and takes care of Pierce. It is revealed to be Black Widow using a virtual reality mask. Pierce, who’s keen on foreseeing such problematic situations bugged the name tags of each of the board members to explode, including Romanoff’s.

            Meanwhile Cap and Wilson are aboard the carriers and proceed to disable each of them in succession. The CGI in this film is incredible, and if I had one regret for not viewing this movie in 3D it would be for this sequence. The destruction and scale of monstrous size of these carriers is impressive. My only gripe with the movie’s final action sequence is that it feels a little drawn out and a bit over the top; not as grounded and grittily satisfying as the rest of the action in the movie. By the way Mackie does a superb job as Wilson, who by now we can refer to as Falcon (though as far as I remember this alias was not mentioned as of yet in the movie). I was afraid going into this movie that they would simply have him solely as a one dimensional sidekick to Cap. Pleasantly this is not the case, he shares likeness with Rogers and they give him a great back story which fleshes out his character. The way he uses his wings is awesome too, they look great and comes off as a way more useful hero then let’s say Hawkeye.
            By now Fury confronts Pierce, saves Romanoff and reveals himself to have survived. This is an awesome scene between the great Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson, great prowess between the two. Pierce reveals his motives for being a member of Hydra with great believability. However, I’m sure many will disagree with me when I say Pierce’s last words before death was a little cheese, and didn’t necessarily need to be there. I’m surprised Redford agreed to mutter those words, but apparently he did. "Hail Dydra!"
            Meanwhile we see the final fight scene between Captain America and the Winter Soldier aboard the last remaining carrier. Cap struggles to make it to a port where he can plug in the chip that reverses the weapon before he runs into trouble. The fight between the two is more emotional than action packed, and we are treated to more impressive CGI. After a while the Cap in typical action movie style manages to plug in the chip and reverses the weapon on Hydra right when the weapon’s countdown goes to 1. Bucky is trapped under beams from the deconstructing carrier which is slowly descending towards land. Cap pulls him out successfully however Cap gets wounded and falls into the ocean and slowly sinks to the bottom and death. Bucky’s memory of his former friend is triggered by inspiring familiar words from Cap previously and Bucky dives into the ocean where he appears to drag Cap ashore to safety, then walks off and disappears off screen.

            We then see Rogers wake up in a hospital bed with “Troubleman” by Marvin Gaye playing on an Ipod, a nod to a recommendation made by Wilson when he first meets Rogers earlier in the film. Wilson is seen with Rogers when he awakes, and I will say again Mackie does a good job with Falcon and I hope to see more of him in future Marvel films. We then see a well done montage of Romanoff being questioned in Supreme court about her affiliation and involved destroying of the S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as U.S. government officials involved with Hydra being apprehended by the F.B.I. Then Nick Fury meets with Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson at Fury’s gravesite (is this where I remember seeing the reference to Jackson’s line in Pulp Fiction?) Fury says he is going “underground”, burning his eye patch, and equipment before going to Europe (probably to track down Hydra).
            The mid credit scene is revealing and would have been a surprise to most of us if we weren’t following the production of Avengers: Age of Ultron so closely. We are shown Hydra’s headquarters in Europe, where we see Baron Von Strucker (leader of Hydra) played by Thomas Kretschmann (Stalingrad , King Kong). Strucker implies that Fury has revealed some of Hydra’s secrets but not all of them. We see Loki’s Scepter before the camera pans to reveal Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch who are being detained in a cell in Hydra’s headquarters. Likely Hydra will use them against the Avengers in Age of Ultron which comes out May 2015. The After credits scene implies the next Captain America movie, Winter Soldier goes to the Captain America exhibit and confronts a display revealing and confirming his former identity as James Buchanan Barnes.

 Overall, I have to say Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It blends action, subtle comedy, and thriller perfectly. Captain America is a hero who could easily be portrayed as one dimensional, bland, and impersonal but Chris Evans and writers knocked it out of the park with this one. I give this film an 8.5/10, certainly a must see. To put that in perspective, Iron-Man 8.5, The Avengers 8.0, and every other Marvel film 7.5 and under. Go see it if you haven’t already, until next time! -- 8.5/10
Image credits: marvel-movies.wikia.com / www.businessinsider.com / www.craveonline.com / www.totalfilm.com / www.fandango.com / celluloidandcigaretteburns.blogspot.com / collider.com / video.swagbucks.com / www.dailymail.co.uk
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