refreshing and entertaining
Most of us are,at heart,escapists. Otherwise,how can one explain the enduring popularity of superheroes? Be it the comics or the movies,caped crusaders and snazzy-uniform-wearing saviours have been an all time favourite.
The success of the new Captain America film is therefore not a surprise. What is so compelling about the movie is not the swashbuckling action or the familiar ‘world under threat’ scenario,it is the uniqueness of the chivalric Captain America himself. Sure he has the trending good looks and mandatory combat skills like any other Marvel hero(Iron Man,Thor,etc) but what separates him from the crowd is his humanity.
To put it bluntly,he embodies the ideals of perfection and righteousness,without losing that ‘humane’ touch. He projects the goodness that lies latent at the heart of every human being. As he tells his comrade, Sam Wilson he does what he thinks ‘is right’.In the mad scramble for power,he will not compromise on his ethics.Which brings us neatly to the plot. The 21st century presents Captain America/Steve Rogers(played by a delightful Chris Evans) as a man gradually adjusting to the culture shock(His list of things to check out include Star Wars and Nirvana) and closely working alongside security organisation S.H.I.E.L.D in the maintenance of world peace and elimination of threats to humanity.
However as he painfully discovers, S.H.I.E.L.D and his methodolgies are vastly different. S.H.I.E.L.D operations (albeit with justifiably good reason) call for secrecy,slyness and a certain distrust of everyone,while the Captain’s moral compass only indicates to honesty,equality and transperency in all dealings,especially among coworkers,thereby eliciting a mini intellectual debate between S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury and Steve.
Things turn sour when an attempt is made on Fury’s life and S.H.I.E.L.D ia compromised by a nefarious terrorist organisation HYDRA with its leaders being prominent S.H.I.E.L.D members who have embraced the dark side.
Betrayed by his associates,branded as a traitor and unsure of whom to trust,Steve turns to the Black Widow(a sassy Scarlet Johansson) for answers and together they unravel the dangerous web of deceit in which they are trapped.Along the way, Steve struggles with his personal trauma,of reconciling himself with the world that scorns the very virtues he stands for. Aided by Sam Wilson,they must prevent the launch of the helicarriers linked with spy satellites and foil HYDRA’s ultimate mission,to subjugate humanity.
Pretty average stuff,huh? Especially for someone who is on a steady diet of Superman and Batman remakes? Sure,it is a formula driven superhero flick,but only with a distinctive twist.
Which brings us back to the film’s title and primary antagonist – ‘The Winter Soldier ‘,Steve’s onetime best friend and now a resurrected ruthless murderer and HYDRA’s most potent weapon.
What was disappointing and indeed the lowest point of the film was that despite all the efforts put in to construct a credible villain,the Winter Soldier(Sebastian Stan) had a very minimal onscreen presence and left many questions unanswered both for the audience and for Steve.
The dynamics between Steve and the Winter Soldier in the tiny blink-and-you-miss-it moments is incredible and the chemistry between the Black Widow and him,sizzles and sparks without igniting to a blaze( and that for one is a good thing,to watch a real hero without the mushy damsel-in-distress compulsion).
Action is plenty,wellrehearsed and gritty,but somewhat lacking the hilarious flair that characterized Avengers. Humour and heartbreak is sprinkled occasionally. 3D devotees will not be disheartened.
From the plot vs character point of view ,the movie follows a decent surprise-laden narrative but it soars becuase of the impecable characterisation,especially in highlighting the internal battles of the protagonists.
To sum it up,Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a refreshing and enjoyable ride. A word of advice: If you’re a Marvel geek,sit back during the credits for a few teasers.
Everyone else,watch this one for the characters.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier(2014)
Directed by: Anthony Russo,Joe Russo
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Please let me know your thoughts!
(Previously published in Voices, The Statesman)