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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Howard goes to see the second instalment of the Captain America film series and says that although the CGI effects are good, Captain America unfortunately falls a little flat...

Cert (UK): 12A

Runtime: 136 mins

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson, Robert Redford

Rating ***

I once again found myself in one of those tiny 60 something seat auditoriums at Vue, Watford and expecting the action packed sequences in this movie to be slightly diminished because of it, but actually they were not and if you like these Marvel excursions into fantasy, this is enjoyable enough.

Captain America can be seen in 3D but I suspect like most films produced in that format there is little to be gained by paying the extra to watch it through two pairs of glasses, which is what I need to do, as a large part of this second Captain America offering does have a fair amount of dialogue and is not necessarily one action scene following another.

The initial movie, which I actually found engaging enough, was almost totally set in the Second World War with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) leading the fight against Hydra as the ideal military hero with more than a hint of moral certitude. This one however, takes place in slightly futuristic Washington DC; opening in breath-taking fashion as Evans and the returning Scarlett Johansson, playing the former double agent Black Widow, rescue a SHIELD ship from pirates. All is not as it seems and becomes even less so when Robert Redford appears on the scene as the scheming and ruthless SHIELD director, overseeing the development of three enormous state of the art gunships designed to kill thousands of targets in one go.

Captain Rogers is uneasy with this use of technology and the moral dilemma that a central agency can have, use and decide its citizen’s fate on information it acquires about them. Indeed this is one of the central themes of the sequel: how much do covert government agencies know about the individual and who is standing up for them. In this movie its Captain America; for the rest of us I have no idea. Anyway, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Rogers’ commander uncovers a conspiracy that centres on the use of the gunships, that would look more at home in an alien movie, and this discovery leads to him being tracked down by a lethal assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

Captain America chases around uncovering the conspiracy and fighting off those sent to capture or eliminate him, including a great hand fight in a glass elevator. The culmination of these episodes is a tense shootout in broad daylight involving the Black Widow, Rogers and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who sprouts a pair of mechanical wings.

The last 15 minutes or so of the movie end with the inevitable orgy of CGI effects, which are quite good as things go. However, where the film does fall a little flat is that Steve Rogers/Captain America appears to be one of the least complex Marvel characters there is, the more interesting themes in the film are not explored enough. The plot is thin with the storyline having more than a few holes in it and the dialogue does leave a lot to be desired. Interestingly there are already four more Avengers films in production, one suspects all with the same attributes and faults, I wonder if the franchise can sustain them.

That said if you like popcorn action movies this hits the mark and once again Scarlett Johansson is worth watching as the Black Widow, stealing just about every scene she appears in.

Written by Howard Groves

(Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray).