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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Brute force. Uncanny power. Devastating weapons. These elements may make up the coolest and most amazing superheroes. But more than the strength of mind and body, it is the strength of character of the hero that will make anyone look up to him. In this second installment to the Captain series, Captain America: The Winter Soldier successfully portrayed the hero and the man behind the shield.

Unlike Captain America: The First Avenger, the film is set in modern day Washington, D.C., some two years after the Battle of New York (The Avengers movie). Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) now works for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. headed by director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). On a mission to free S.H.I.E.L.D. hostages from pirates, Rogers and agent Natasha Romanoff or Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) step into an agenda which sent terrifying shockwaves in the agency and in humankind.

The interplay between these three characters is charismatic and touching. Each one helps another in bringing out the hero in them, yet, reminding them they are still human with a vulnerable heart. We see Steve Rogers going back to a museum for Captain America, reminiscing the adventures with his buddies and with the one woman he loved. We see Natasha Romanoff succumbing to grief and frustration as the agency who fostered her becomes compromised. We see Nick Fury sacrificing friendship and his agency in order to save the greater good. With Rogers’ and Romanoff’ flirtatious and witty interchanges, we smile and relate to them. With Romanoff’s and Fury’s strong relationship, we see how hope and trust can be a powerful weapon. With Fury’s and Roger’s heart for humankind, we see the real hero behind the shield and the eyepiece.

Another superhero is introduced in the movie in the person of Sam Wilson or Falcon (Anthony Mackie), a former military parajumper who becomes Rogers’ jogging buddy. Right at the start, Wilson and Roger instantly spark a strong flame of friendship as each one respects the superhero strength, as well as the secret struggle, of another. Towards the end, Wilson unselfishly offers his assistance to Rogers and his team in order to stop an evil coup.

The villain in the movie is in the person of senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), supposed friend of Nick Fury. Pierce’s presence in S.H.I.E.L.D. has enabled the criminal organization HYDRA to infiltrate the agency. All the while, he has been secretly harboring the project Insight, which when launched, will wipe out millions of people in the planet, people who have been identified by a brilliant computer algorithm as potential threats. Here, we see a man in fear of evil, yet relishing in his own villainy as well, a man blinded by his own awkward beliefs and principles.

Surprisingly, a character out of Roger’s past resurfaces. Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) emerges as the ruthless metal-armed assassin called as the Winter Soldier. But Bucky is not anymore Roger’s World War II comrade. After being captured and brainwashed by HYDRA, the Winter Soldier is out to kill anyone on his way.

With Pierce and the Winter Soldier, a massive threat befalls on the world. Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, and Nick Fury rushes in “to save the day”. Like every action films, the good guys win in the end. But it is a bittersweet finish as victory comes with painful parting and ending – like the loss of friendship, identity, and the people they love.

Unlike all the other Marvel movies, the beauty of Captain America: The Winter Soldier does not lie on its plot and actions alone. It is the character development that engages the audience from beginning to end. Yes, there are still the heart-pumping and chair-gripping fight scenes. In fact, CGI effects are reduced to minimum to give way to that old-school, man-to-man action. It is savage, it is suspenseful, and yet, it is beautiful. And of all the Marvel movies, this film is more current and relevant as it deals with human evil and terrorism.

I enjoy this sequel as much as did with the first installment. These two movies have a subtle and heart-wrenching quality in them. In the end, they make Captain America my favorite Avenger superhero. Next is Iron Man with his easy yet dark personality. The three Iron Man movies are also great, but I love them less than the Captain movies. Thor is just alright. His first film was jaw-dropping and impressive, but the second one falls out of my expectations, a movie with a strong premise yet failed in bringing in the required suspense. The Incredible Hulk feels shallow and boring to me. Both Black Widow and Green Archers can make excellent secondary heroes, but not enough to be the main stars.

Rating: Apparently, five stars out of five for this movie.

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