Captain America: The Winter Soldier
– for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout.
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell
Running Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: April 4, 2014
Steve Rogers (Captain America) struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
Ever since Marvel Studios launched their ambitious and incredible series of films that intertwine with each other and epically unite in Avengers (and its upcoming sequel), the world of comic books has opened up to all new audiences who may have never stepped foot into a comics store or cracked the binding on a single issue. While I did read some comics as a kid, they were never of the superhero variety, so Marvel’s films have largely been crash-courses in some of their characters that I otherwise never would have looked into before. Following the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, I sought out the comics for Cap because my interest in the heroic, self-sacrificing super soldier had been piqued. After 2012’s Avengers, the next series of films, dubbed “Phase 2” by Marvel and their fans alike, began to film immediately after Avengers shattered the box office with Iron Man 3 being the first release the following year. Thor: The Dark World released later in 2013 with plans for the next Captain America film to release in 2014. Once I heard the title announced as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I did a little research and even picked up the comic books that boasted that story line. And it’s a fascinating one.
It’s tempting to spill exactly who The Winter Soldier is here in the review, but I’ll save it as a surprise for those who haven’t looked into the storyline too deeply. While some may then find it to be a bit contrived, going back to watch Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers will reveal a bit of how this was in the works from the beginning (in fact, the commentary for the 2011 film, which hit DVD and Blu-Ray that October, has the director talking about The Winter Soldier character and the little set-ups in The First Avenger for it. Clearly, Marvel’s been planning this, and it’s brilliant). The film Captain America: The Winter Soldier is just as much a sequel to The First Avenger as it is a third movie in a trilogy of The First Avenger, then Avengers, and then Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The 3 movies work almost seamlessly together, and if you liked either of those, chances are you’ll love the direction that Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes.
But the tone of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is incredibly different than any of the other Marvel films. Sure, it has its big action moments that feel more like an Iron Man movie or Avengers, but it has an overall more serious tone and it also is a bit darker. Some have described it as a “political thriller” masquerading as a superhero film and that’s not a bad description of it. In fact, parts of the movie almost have the drama, action and grit of a Jason Bourne vehicle. It works for bringing realism to the story, and it’s just stinkin’ awesome to see Cap in action, whipping that shield at really, really bad guys. What might be most surprising, though, is just how much Captain America: The Winter Soldier relates to the 2011 film, The First Avenger. Without spoiling anything, it just really makes great use of the story that was set up there and carries it through to fruition here (and includes a certain cameo from Iron Man 2 just for fun). The film is a game-changer, too, so it’s exciting to see where it will go from here.
The content may surprise some Marvel fans–particularly the younger ones. While I mentioned the grit of the Bourne films, it really translates here. There are large, loud, violent action sequences where many people are killed and gunned down and many (MANY) bullets are fired. One intense sequence has a character trying to survive being run off the road by multiple vehicles while having their vehicle riddled with bullets. They’re then pursued even more before having their vehicle hurled in the air by a bomb. Other scenes show The Winter Soldier brutally executing people, via gun, just off screen, while other miscellaneous characters are gunned down swiftly by enemy forces or held at gun point. (They even show a villain gun down his housekeeper!) It’s pretty much an all-out action film with superhero characters and not for the faint of heart. By the end, some characters are quite bloodied and we sometimes see some characters with cuts on their head and face with small stitches on the wounds. Language is mostly mild, consisting primarily of “h*ll” and “d*mn” and 2 uses of the “S” word (the second is sort of cut off, and the first is slightly muffled by action sounds), and one “Oh my G-d.” There is hardly an sexuality, while Nat kisses Cap to blend into a crowd and later they discuss the fact that it was probably his first kiss since before he was frozen.
Darker and more serious than most of the Marvel movies (but no less fun — there’s a fantastic opening scene where Cap infiltrates a ship and takes out a mess of terrorists on his own), Captain America: The Winter Soldier captures the tone of the Cap comics well, teasing fans with familiar characters new to the cinematic tales and letting things build momentum for future stories (be it Avengers movies or Captain America sequels). The Winter Soldier has a great, intricate plot that is intriguing and entertaining, not to mention, emotional at the right moments. It’s a solid comic book film and the best of the post-Avengers films thus far. Oh, and if you do see the film, there’s a mid-credits additional scene that teases something for Avengers 2, while a second scene after the credits are all over, teases the future of one of the characters in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/4/14)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: To blend in with a sea of civilians, Natasha tells Cap to kiss her because PDA makes people uncomfortable. He says it makes him uncomfortable too and then she kisses him. She asks him if he still feels uncomfortable and he said that’s not exactly what he’d call it.
Vulgarity/Language: 2 “S” words, 1 “Oh my G-d,” 6 “d*mn,” 6 “h*ll,” 1 “S.O.B.,” 1 “a” word
Alcohol/Drugs: We see Pierce toasting champagne with other SHIELD board members (one of them throws their glass in protest).
Blood/Gore: We see a man lying on a medical bed with a sheet over him and some blood on him and instruments as he’s being operated on; When he’s without a shirt, we see some scarring around the Winter Soldier’s metal arm where it attaches to his body; A man has two bloody bullet holes in his shirt as he lies dead with his eyes open; A woman is shot in the shoulder and we see a little blood. Later we see a closeup of her jacket around the bloody bullet hole in it and see some blood oozing out; The Winter Soldier fights Cap with a knife and slices his side (we briefly see a little blood); Soldiers who fought Cap have bruises and cuts on their faces afterwards; A man is pulled from a tremendous wreckage looking extremely burned and bloodied up. We see this as he’s hoisted onto a stretcher; A man is shot in the arm and has some blood on his black clothes and head; A man is shot through a wall in a dark room and we see a little blood spraying when he’s hit; We see a blurred flashback of a wounded person being dragged with some blood in the snow; Cap has a bloody cut on the side of his mouth while fighting (later we see stitches there); A character is shot in the leg and then in the back/stomach area with blood soaking into his clothes. They get more beat up and bloodied too (including having an eye bloodied shut); Other characters have scrapes and cuts in the movie too.
Violence: Lots and lots of lethal action violence. Captain America leads a team to a boat overrun by terrorists and takes them out one by one (Cap hits them with his shield, kicks and punches them, etc). At one point, when one is about to sound an alarm, Cap throws a knife through the man’s hand to stop him; Cap fights one-on-one with a soldier; A grenade blows up a room with Nat and Cap barely escaping; Natasha uses a wire a couple times in the movie to choke/kill bad guys (just like she used in Iron Man 2); A man is seen driving an SUV down a busy street when multiple cop cars block the vehicle, smashing into it, and then riddling it with bullets. The vehicle is bulletproof so they use a battering ram to break the driver side window. The passenger then shoots a machine gun out that window at the attackers and speeds away. The bad guys continue to shoot up the vehicle in pursuit, with bystanders running out of the way and/or getting hit too. The car is eventually blown into the air from a bomb; We see a wounded person hiding in a room who is then shot up three times through a wall; We see a man being operated on who then is declared dead; Cap is surrounded in an elevator and he fights all of them to get out. This involves tasers and magnetic cuffs. He tries to get out on different floors but is blocked, so he jumps out of the elevator’s glass windows to the ground and runs away; We see Cap on a motorcycle as a large flying ship shoots at him. He then tosses his shield at it, damaging the engine, then does more damage before hopping off to let it crash; Cap punches a computer monitor; An air strike levels a building with 2 people inside, but they survive; We see the Winter Soldier shooting people and fighting Cap and Natasha. Cap and Winter fight hand-to-hand and with weapons; A woman is shot in the shoulder; Some bad guys shoot up a bus with fleeing civilians in it; We see some innocent people get shot; A villain shoots his housekeeper; A villain detonates devices that some people are wearing that shocks/burns them to death; We see Winter Soldier strapped in a chair and a villain slaps him in the face. They then strap him down and put a mouth guard in his mouth to wipe his memory; Natasha kicks a man off a rooftop but he’s caught by Falcon; A woman beats up several people in a room; Falcon and Crossbones fight one-on-one; Two men have a brutal fight where one of them gets shot multiple times and is pretty bloodied up (one of them repeatedly punches the other in the face). They then give up and fall lifelessly into water where they’re then pulled out and dragged to shore; We see a badly wounded person recovering in bed; A villain is shot in the chest twice and we see them lying on the ground with their eyes open and blood on their clothes; Three helicarriers are fired upon and we see them exploding and crashing. One crashes into a building, causing debris to rain down and people to get hurt; A team of bad guys walk into a building and shoot everyone they see, killing them; During one such kind of attack, we see a miscellaneous person go flying into a jet engine and it explodes; And lots more action violence (some lethal).