Posts Tagged ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Spring Sequels: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (The Russo Brothers, 2014)/‘The Raid II’ (Gareth Evans, 2014)

Captain America: The First Avenger was B-grade Marvel; breezily enjoyable nonsense with chronic third-act issues, effectively a two-hour prologue paving the way toward the main event of 2012’s Avengers. I’m enjoying this post-Avengers ‘Phase II’ so far. Marvel finally seems comfortable embracing the potential of these worlds, super-producer Kevin Feige signing off on radical film-to-film, franchise-to-franchise divergences. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with effortless ease, slips into the realm of the action thriller, lifting the series up to the stature of the successes of the first and third Iron Man films whilst building on and complementing the Avengers pictures that, for now, remain destined to be the spine of the Marvel cinematic universe. There’s a moral complexity here leagues ahead of anything attempted since the game kicked off six summers ago, certainly the comedic Iron Man or glossy hero buffet of The Avengers never dipped into such murky territory. That it’s been achieved with a lower-tier character who never really came to life until the crossover picture is as surprising as it is welcome, directors Joe & Anthony Russo avoiding sloppy jingoism and nailing a mix of propulsive, fluid action with unexpectedly prescient political comment. Chuck in Robert Redford, Samuel L Jackson and (the in-form) Scarlett Johansson and you’ve got a winner, an inordinately satisfying one at that.

My effusive praise of The Raid hasn’t dimmed over the last two years. It’s one of the great modern action spectaculars, a balletic dance of fighting mayhem. The Raid II widens the scope beyond the sustained corridor punch-ups of the first, laying on a series of extraordinary and flawlessly executed setpieces across a broader canvass. It’s to director Gareth Evans credit that he avoids a straight rehash of the first, spreading the action over a whole city and widening the scope to craft his own crime saga, punctuated by occasional bursts of star Iko Uwais’ incredible Pencak Silat martial arts. 

Watching again with the packed audience that brought so much to the experience of viewing the original, The Raid II was a blast – Evans’ innate understanding of how to choreograph and edit fight sequences makes up for the occasional narrative drag of his ambitiously lengthy runtime. Best is a car chase through the streets of Jakarta where Uwais battles hoards of combatants in, around and on top of a vehicle as it hurtles through the streets. The practical stuntwork, unflinching violence and manic confidence – leagues ahead of the competition.

Tags: ,
Posted in Film Reviews | Comments Off