Trust becomes an issue from the beginning as Cap is sent on a mission to rescue hostages at sea accompanied by Natasha, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who it turns out is not quite on the same mission as Rodgers is. Things become even murkier when SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is targeted for assassination by the eponymous Winter Soldier, and his last words to Rodgers are to trust no one before handing off the filmís McGuffin, a thumb drive. Whether Rodgers can even trust Fury also comes into question, the idea planted by Furyís superior, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a man so committed to order that he turned down the Nobel Peace prize because he hadnít actually achieved that goal. And so committed to his family that he finagles an appearance by Iron Man at his nieceís birthday party.
An intelligent script deftly plays into the paranoia of conspiracy and ulterior motives that it is become common to suspect lurks in the darkest recesses of the halls of power, and/or the shadow government, and this is mirrored in Rodgersí gradual loss of innocence about the realpolitik of the 21st century. There is no one better to capture both that wistful sadness about the loss, and the steadfast and upright morality that survives it, than Chris Evans. There is not a trace of irony in his resolutely wholesome persona. This is manliness of a chivalrous nature that can reduce an elevator full of would-be assassins to a whimpering heap and still all but blush when given what may or may not be his first real kiss since 1945. Yet for all the nobility, he is not dull; his struggle not easily dismissed as a paper tiger set up as a plot device. Natasha, too, is given some complexity, becoming more than just a crack agent who can kick butt and look devastatingly seductive while doing so. Kudos to Johansson for finding the melancholy at the core of the bravado, and to
The action is gritty. The violence, despite some nifty gadgets, including a set of wings for co-star Anthony Mackie as Falcon, anything but cartoonish. Even the showdowns with the mysterious and seemingly unstoppable Winter Soldier are less about dizzying stunts than about sheer survival against an implacable foe convinced of the secular holiness of his mission. The result is a super hero adventure grounded in reality that works on both levels, and a genuinely suspenseful story that harks back to the best of the Cold War thrillers. Trust me, no one was more surprised by this than yours truly.
Fast-paced, slickly directed, and smarter than it needs to be while also being enormously entertaining, CAPTAIN