The success of both the first film and the Avengers, Captain America was bound to return. While the First Avenger had a straight forward black and white approach (not to hard when your villains are Nazis) the Winter Soldier is about how far the world has fallen. Steve’s values are clashing with even the good guys. He is starting to doubt his missions and his teammates.
The one bright spot is his meeting Sam Wilson, who works with vets in dealing with their experiences and return to civilian life. Steve is also trying to keep the trust with Natasha (Black Widow). Meanwhile, Nick Fury seems to be hiding secrets from Cap and the government to boot.
When Alexander Peirce calls for Captain America to be arrested for Treason, the movie shifts into hero on the run trying expose a conspiracy.
This film shakes up the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe* with it’s deep dark conspiracy based plot line. The primary heme is “Who can you trust?” And overall it it is handled pretty well. There are some spectacular action sequences, especially the close quarters of an elevator. The film has a lot of humor, considering the plot.
The cast is full of charm. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is a blast (and off-screen comments indicate Mackie has had a blast playing the character). Of course, Chris Evans makes a noble and heroic man out of time. As Black Widow, Johansson is getting a change to build on the role from the Avengers. Robert Redford brings a certain gravitas of an elder statesman.
This is a strong and exciting entry in the franchise, and is a nice companion to the First Avenger.
*well, it did for ten minutes. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pretty much put S.H.I.E.L.D. back in play.