tobacco Knights presents
Installment 9: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2014 Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
I think that was my favorite film of the whole MCU series so far. The Avengers may be the best grab-your-bowl-of-popcorn movie, and Thor may have my favorite main character, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the best all-around watching experience. There’s a really good story with great characters, great action without going too over-the-top, great effects that didn’t distract, perfect casting, and as good a villain as Loki, with an equally complicated relationship to the protagonist. The plot got a little confusing at times, leaving you not exactly sure who was deceiving who, but that’s not an uncommon thing for me to have to fight through with these movies sometimes. I suppose we could agree to give the benefit of the doubt to the filmmakers and say that the confusion was intentional, to give you the perspective from Cap’s point of view (or Nick Fury’s, or Natasha Romanoff’s, or even Bucky’s…)
I was a big fan of the first Captain America. I really liked getting all that backstory set against the backdrop of WWII. Plus I’ve always liked Cap himself. I know he’s kinda basic and stereotypical, in demeanor, in costume, in everything, to the point of dullness sometimes, but he was the first, and he makes a great foundation to build and rely on. He’s also the only comic book character I remember from early childhood, probably from a copy or two discovered at my grandparent’s house leftover from when my dad was a kid. So I thought it was great the way they started off the movie, showing how he’s acclimated to the 21st century, but not dwelling on it too much or using that as an opportunity for jokes and sight-gags, which is usually the case in such circumstances. It was also a great way to introduce Anthony Mackie’s character that eventually becomes Falcon, who, by the way, is probably my favorite side-kick (if you can call him that) of the series so far. Sorry Don Cheadle. We’ll always have Boogie Nights…
So the main story of the film gets under way with the boat hijacking rescue scene, and we quickly learn that there are wheels within wheels and nothing is completely as it seems in terms of mission objectives and ulterior motives. And thus the confusion starts to ensue. But it actually didn’t bother me much when I didn’t always know exactly who was deceiving who, and I’ve definitely learned to just go with it and everything will eventually explain and work itself out. And if not, there’s always Wikipedia….
I noticed early on too that the “look” and “feel” of the film was very much in keeping with the original Cap installment, even though a different set of directors, editors, and cinematographers were at the helm. The gradual introduction of the Winter Soldier, and the more involved and complicated role of Nick Fury than we’re used to really carried the middle of the film. The “cameo” of a computerized Toby Jones was cool, and eventually made sense, even if it really had me scratching my head at the moment. I had to really think back and remember the whole Dr. Zola backstory from the first Cap movie to make it all gel, but it finally did. Anyway it was cool to see Truman Capote again, if only in Matrix form. And it’s always hard for me to see Robert Redford as anyone but Robert Redford, even if he is playing the villainous leader of Hydra. But I suppose that’s always been the case for me with him, except for Sundance and Johnny “Kelly” Hooker.
By the time the penultimate action sequence came about, I was pretty punch-drunk with plot and character identity twists. The performances of Evans, Mackie, Johansson, and Sebastian Stan are what held it together for me. The whole helicarriers wreaking havoc thing was pretty good, but perhaps a little too Avenger-ish for me to totally love. The way they ultimately fired on and destroyed each other was a pretty cool and deserving resolution. And Bucky’s saving of Cap but still not yet coming full around to accepting his place and identity was a good way to end the sequence.
The One Thing: Really, the overall movie as a whole. You know there are some movies that, if you’re channel surfing and come across, you just stop there and leave it on. Even if it’s just for background noise, you feel good and almost kinda obligated to let it play out in the background. Well, taking the whole MCU series into account, this film and the original Captain America may be the only two that would fall into that category. I don’t even think Thor or The Avengers would. It’s hard to put an exact finger on why, other than the Cap movies are really good, and not just entertaining. They come the closest to not feeling like “comic book” movies, which isn’t necessarily a bad or good label to place on any of the MCU films. But having said that, I would probably just keep on surfing when coming across any of those others.
Just Blowing Smoke: In honor of this movie having my favorite sidekick, and that Cap wouldn’t want it to be about him anyway, I give you the Sancho Panza from Honduras. At a few dollars a stick, this is probably my favorite cigar for the price. It can be a little hard to find sometimes, as it’s sometimes considered too low on the totem pole for the more uppity humidor, but not exactly an over-the-counter Swisher Sweet quickie from your local liquor store either. The black-banded Connecticut is my personal choice, but the red-banded Habano is great as well. I even like the Maduro, which is usually not the case with other brands. Give it a try, and don’t let the $4 (or even less) price tag fool you. It’s a great sidekick to have on any journey.
By the way, the epilogues were much better than the last MCU release. Seeing Loki’s staff in the hands of Hydra, and getting a peek at Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch was pretty cool. And I really liked the very end with Bucky visiting his exhibit at the Smithsonian. I’m definitely more excited for the next Cap installment Civil War than Ultron. Sorry Avenger fanatics…
To read The Nerdling’s review Captain America: The Winter Soldier click here