‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated October 7th, 2014 at 1:38 am,

Captain America The Winter Soldier Poster Shield Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

The Russo Brothers build a strong sequel on The First Avenger foundation and subsequent shared universe entries, elevating both Captain America’s skills and personal drama to refreshing heights.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still adjusting to life in the 21st Century, packing his days with workout routines and special ops missions, too busy to date or catch-up on a growing list of experiences that he missed while frozen in Arctic ice. As Captain America, Rogers is at the top of his world-saving game; yet, despite his adventures, the First Avenger has become disillusioned with his work at S.H.I.E.L.D. Increased secrecy and a new global initiative – Project Insight, which prioritizes heavy-handed  law enforcement over personal freedoms – have left Rogers questioning what (and who) he’s even fighting for in a post-Battle of New York world.

However, after S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by heavily-armed and well-coordinated mercenaries led by the fabled Winter Soldier, Rogers must set aside his apprehensions to investigate a new threat against humanity. Joined by fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and former para infantry soldier Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Rogers disappears off the grid and begins digging into long-kept S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets. If Captain America hopes to ensure a future for freedom, he must first overcome a collision course with his own complicated past.

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Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

The Russo Brothers take over for First Avenger director Joe Johnston in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, successfully building from the super-soldier origin story and subsequent Avengers team-up to create an entertaining, as well as action-packed, spy drama – one that just so happens to be based on a comic book. As a result, The Winter Soldier is one of the most accessible and high-quality Marvel movies yet. There are countless Easter eggs (and two post-credit scenes) for fans, but at its heart, the Captain America sequel tells a captivating political thriller story with clever ties to actual U.S. history and the larger Marvel universe. Both die-hard comic readers and casual filmgoers should enjoy the film, and even though viewers might not agree on which Marvel Studios movie is their favorite, there’s no question that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is among the best superhero adaptations to hit the big screen.

Certain Marvel solo movies struggle to tie into the studio’s shared universe storyline – especially following The Avengers – but the Russo Brothers strike a sharp balance between corralling tie-in threads and supporting the core Winter Soldier plot. Additionally, the film includes timely social commentary for the ongoing debate over national security and personal freedom – all wrapped within a gripping 1970s-esque espionage flick.

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Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier in ‘Captain America 2′

Even without superhero headliners, the script serves-up a captivating political tale, loaded with poignant human drama, explosive set pieces, and savvy twists. In spite of solid box office sales, viewers have criticized Marvel Studios for playing it safe with their cross-movie narratives, but the latest Captain America delivers a bold step forward, dramatically restructuring the landscape of the TV/movie universe.

Following the exuberant personality of Tony Stark and raw power of Thor, a new Steve Rogers movie could have easily been an afterthought. Nevertheless, The Winter Soldier takes a fascinating look at Captain America, trading “fish out of water” gags for an intimate portrayal of the values (and doubts) held by a man who has accepted a lifelong mission of protecting the innocent.

Evans, who has now portrayed Rogers in three full length feature films, is finally at home in the role – showcasing a quick-witted and extremely capable warrior. By presenting a profound and outright exciting depiction, the Russo’s help to reinforce what many comic book fans already knew: that Captain America is more than an honorable, shield-wielding, super-soldier: he’s one of the smartest and most powerful men on (or off) Earth.

Captain America 2 Scarlet Johansson Black Widow Chris Evans Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Scarlet Johansson returns as Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow)

The sequel also makes good use of its supporting cast – most notably Black Widow, Nick Fury and newcomer Falcon. Black Widow and Nick Fury are already fan-favorite entries in the shared universe, but The Winter Soldier script takes each character to a new level, affording Johansson and Jackson ample screen time to comb new layers in their respective roles, ultimately delivering strong insights, as well as downright rousing moments of heroism. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is a welcome addition to the squad, and the actor enjoys some of the film’s most humorous beats. Still, Falcon isn’t just comic relief – he presents a stimulating juxtaposition to Rogers and quickly earns his spot onscreen.

Similarly, Robert Redford carries veteran charm to his role as Alexander Pierce – a role that is a make or break element of The Winter Soldier plot. Redford’s exchanges with key heroes, especially Fury, are among the film’s best, and Redford develops Pierce into a well-rounded ideologue instead of one-note bureaucrat.

Captain America 2 Robert Redford Alexander Pierce Samuel L Jackson Nick Fury Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

The Winter Soldier, portrayed by Sebastian Stan, is also a standout – a formidable antagonist capable of knocking Rogers and his team on their backs. The villain is the centerpiece in some of the most exhilarating (not to mention intense) action sequences that Marvel has ever put to film – with creative realizations of trademark source material weaponry (especially his mechanical arm). Though, the real success of the character is Stan’s ability to convey emotion through basic expressions – since the Winter Soldier relies on action, rarely dialogue, to communicate his feelings.

Minor hiccups like noticeable green screen disconnect in select settings, are overcome by plenty of eye-popping visuals – as well as grounded (and absolute brutal) fight choreography that is not just thrilling, but also sells the core cast as lethal operatives. For that reason, 3D and IMAX 3D are recommendable to viewers that want the premium Captain America sequel experience. That said, neither is essential, so frugal filmgoers shouldn’t feel bad about catching the movie in basic 2D.

Captain America 2 Anthony Mackie Falcon Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Where The Avengers sold casual moviegoers and comic book fans alike with an epic superhero team-up event, Captain America: The Winter Soldier should have no problem pleasing both parties by delivering a high-quality spy thriller. The Russo Brothers build a strong sequel on The First Avenger foundation and subsequent shared universe entries, elevating both Captain America’s skills and personal drama to refreshing heights. It’s not the biggest Marvel movie to hit theaters, but with a timely narrative, deeper exploration of fan-favorite characters, a strong cast and unforgettable action set pieces, Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes a compelling case for being one of the studio’s best adventures.

If you’re still on the fence about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, check out the trailer below:

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier runs 136 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout. Now playing in 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Captain America: The Winter Soldier Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Captain America: The Winter Soldier episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. I need to watch this movie again! Preferably in 2D. Winter Soldier is just awesome, too much awesomeness by Sebastian Stan.

  2. I’m just a general audience guy. I normally don’t see this type of movie, and I never saw any of the preceding or related movies. I thought that the movie was okay, and I didn’t have any major problem with it.

    I liked the scene on the sidewalk outside DC’s Willard Intercontinental Hotel, and it made me laugh to think that, back in the 70’s, that building was inhabited by nothing but rats and scheduled for a demolition. But then suddenly we went to a NYC tower rooftop. I wasn’t always sure what city I was in, but maybe it didn’t matter.

    Lots of jittery camara motion on group discussion scenes and on fight scenes. It made me dizzy and I had to leave so as to not get sick. And that’s the 2D version. If you’re into that sort of Turret’s Syndrome camera shots, which also seems to be on a lot of TV shows now, then this movie will be fine for you.

  3. I would say that this is the best Marvel Studios film so far. I’m not quite willing to go with “masterpiece,” but in terms of ensemble cast, story and action, it’s the most confident, mature project that we’ve seen yet. Not quite as “big epic fun” as the Avengers, but clearly a superior film, in my opinion.

  4. Five stars easy. Saw it yesterday and it is my favorite Marvel film to date. The fight scenes were pretty damn brutal and awesome. St. Pierre’s scenes on the ship in the beginning were great as well. It really was a thrilling movie and a major improvement upon the first one which was my least favorite pre-Avengers film.

  5. 4.5/5

    The entire .5 is deducted for ridiculous overuse of shaky cam. I understand that a lot of filmmakers employ the technique to lend a sense of ‘reality’ to a given scene, or do it help mask perceived flaws, or to just help create a certain atmosphere… but enough already. It’s getting ridiculous that people pay $15-20 for a movie ticket to watch movies that look like they’re being filmed by a 15 year old in the throes of an epileptic seizure. If you don’t trust your special effects team, your fight choreographers and your stunt team (or actors) to make the scene believable maybe you should hire people you actually do trust enough to not have to hide their work.


    That was the only mar I found (albeit a big one) on an otherwise spectacular film.

    Chris Evans isn’t given enough credit for doing such a strong job on such a difficult, and sadly outdated, character like Captain America (seriously that was a classic Captain America speech he gave in the Treskelion at the end, and he delivered it beautifully). He brings an earnestness and conviction to role I have a hard time seeing being duplicated. There was enough balance and interplay between all the characters in a reasonably large cast that none of them felt overshadowed or left out. The action sets were comic book quality faithfully rendered on the big screen, the plot twists were entertaining and (largely) unexpected, and the subtext and social commentary was well-done and gave an added depth to the story.

    Highly recommended.

  6. I can’t believe people love this movie!! It’s not too bad, but far from a masterpiece, and definitely not the best Marvel movie. Yeah, acting was ok for the most part, great visuals, but the writing… The main idea about freedom and fear is conveyed so simplistically, it barely qualifies as social commentary at all. Maybe it was intentionally dumbed down for international audiences, but it was definitely a weak plot. The whole movie is so full of cliches and tired plot twists, plus the main villain’s plan is really kinda stupid.. I enjoyed watching it, but on the whole, it is not a great movie. The first CA was better by miles

    • that would be nick fury, he wasnt shot in the suv he was just banged up with one are broken. he injected himself with a heavy pain injection in the suv, that how he was still able to function.

  7. As a Uni Student (culture and conflict) about to embark on her dissertation, this film is now an important addition to the other Avengers/Iron Man films I shall be referencing. Superficially enjoyable and yet deeply political/cultural I am glad it has turned out as well as it has. Frankly I was entranced, I am not a film critic – I like films for the enjoyment of watching – but as a student of cultural representations of conflict, gender identity and ideology, the Marvel film franchise holds a place of particular interest equal to that of Romero’s zombie films (albeit in a different manner, I really don’t care about reviews, enjoyment is subjective anyway, been a comic book fan for many decades, but even films that are enjoyable on the surface – or not – have something to say to us about the times we live in…and this film is definitely one of them.


    Ahh such a frustrating movie! Hugely entertaining with many fun comic book references, yet Dr. Zola working on Bucky? Surely he would not have been released so soon after his capture that he would be able to get to Bucky so fast. It would have made more sense if they had a shot of Bucky being held prisoner by the Russians before Zola gets him.
    Then there’s Agents of SHIELD (tv,) which i believe is starting a new season. After (again SPOILER ALERT!) the events of the movie SHIElD should be dissolved! I hope the show can cover it, haven’t been able to keep up with it but I liked the first few episodes.