Of course, it wouldn’t have been a Marvel movie, the main requirement of which is that the second half be devoted almost exclusively to blowing shit up. So after a quick rundown of all the stuff that makes Steve feel dislocated, the movie leaps right into heavy plotting and nonstop action.
This sequel isn’t up to high quality of the original, which benefitted hugely from its retro 1940s setting. But “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has been competently made (the directors are brothers Anthony and Joe Russo) and Evans’ Steve Rogers is, for my money, the most interesting of the Marvel superheroes.
Which is weird because he’s the least expansive of the bunch — a modest, ridiculously ethical fellow clinging to the mores of the Depression era. But there’s something about Steve’s fish-out-of-water existentialism that I find strangely compelling.
Anyway, the plot.
It turns out that within S.H.I.E.L.D. there are dissident elements secretly working to strip Nick Fury of his power (not to mention his life) and impose their own evil agenda.
The short version is that Captain America and his conversationally combative sidekick Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) become fugitives, with the full might and power of the federal government devoted to their extermination. Naturally, the federal government doesn’t stand a chance.
Cap and Co. have a new ally in ex-soldier Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who goes from running a therapy group for veterans with PTSD to donning a set of mechanical wings that turn him into a superhero called Falcon.
They’ve got a new nemesis in Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a highly-placed security muckymuck with Machiavellian ambitions.
The Winter Soldier of the title, by the way, isn’t Captain America. Rather, it’s a masked, long-haired superwarrior who has been brainwashed into the belief that the Cap must be destroyed. I won’t say anything more, since the Winter Soldier involves a big reveal that will elicit oohs and aahs of admiration from Marvel geeks and shrugs of indifference from everyone else.
The action here has been pretty well executed. I’m particularly intrigued by the ways in which Captain America uses his round shield as both a defensive and offensive weapon, tossing it like a boomerang, using it to hack chunks out of buildings and vehicles.
But I’m in the dark about the nature of Cap’s superpowers. I mean, in this film he is shot and stabbed, yet he can smash into a wall at mach velocity without so much as a headache. He cannot fly, yet he can drop out of an airplane without a parachute and land safely on his own two feet. WTF?
Oh, well. I’m looking for logic in a genre that sneers at the very idea.