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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3D IMAX

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, and following on from The Avengers. It is the ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Two years after the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers/Captain America is taken by Natasha Romanoff on a mission-- to rescue the hostages of a hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D ship. But there are two parallel secret agendas behind this apparently purposeless crime that will reveal shocking secrets, including a plot to kill millions of people, using S.H.I.E.L.D.'s. own resources. That is unless Captain America, aided by his boss Nicholas J. Fury, Romanoff, Falcon pilot Sam Wilson and Sharon Carter/Agent 13 can crack the plot and defeat the enemies, whose most powerful assassin is Rogers’ brainwashed childhood pal, James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes.

It’s a thrill every few seconds, and technology is ably complemented with human encounters. Amazingly, the film is quite complete even as a stand-alone entity, with not much need to refer to the prequels. Think of it as a James Bond espionage movie, on a much more futuristic plane, minus the sex and double entendre jokes, and the hero able to perform most of his stunts himself, without Q’s gadgets. Chris Evans is in great form as the Cap. Scarlett Johansson (Romanoff) gets a meaty part and some of the most humorous lines. Dependable veterans Samuel L. Jackson, 65 (Fury) and Robert Redford, 77, (his boss) are perfect foils. Anthony Mackie makes a very likeable Wilson and Emily van Camp packs a deceptive punch.

Not much is made of the title, as there is hardly a mention of what and who is the Winter Soldier. The de rigueur car chase and shoot-out is there, as in every action film for some three decades now. It is really classy here, but one wishes writers and directors could come-up with drastic variations. How much can you do with fast cars and multiple crashes? (That lengthy sequence required shutting down a large portion of a Cleveland freeway for two weeks). The directors have cited John Frankenheimer’s Ronin as the biggest influence on the car stuff in the movie. Also, a few action scenes tend to build-up somewhat unnecessarily, in an effort to make them more dramatic, like the one in a lift(elevator). Face-masks and bio-metric access systems are nothing new, but the writers make some ingenious use of such stock-in-trade ploys. Jackson's character is named Nicholas J. Fury; reminds us of the famous Nicholas (Nick) J. Huntington Carter spy series of yesteryear. Fusing United Nations' Security Council with the World, the parent body of S.H.I.E.L.D. is dubbed 'World Security Council'.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, brothers, were raised in Cleveland. Their student film, PIECES (1997), a comedy, caught the attention of Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh, which led to Welcome To Collinwood (2002). The brothers tried their hand successfully at television, before returning to the big screen, with You, Me and Dupree (2006), starring Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes an impressive addition to their CV, and no surprise that they will return for Captain America 3. They have confirmed that they will direct the third instalment, and Christopher Markus-Stephen McFeely, who wrote this film, will write that one too.

When asked in an interview if any particular films were in their minds during the idea development stage, McFeely named Three Days of the Condor, the 1975 CIA thriller starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. “There’s a lot of seepage from that movie. (The Three Days of the Condor connection became even more significant with the casting of Robert Redford). Also, other conspiracy movies of the time, like The Parallax View, and Marathon Man. It’s not like we stole particular things from them, but there’s just that sort of sense of layers of the onion being peeled away.”

Incidentally, there are two post-credits scenes in this film, so do not leave the cinema hall till the very last credit title is over, and you have seen the second scene as well. One is directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers’ director, who will helm the sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the other extra scene is directed by the Russo brothers themselves.

Rating: ****

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SlILk2WMTI&feature=player_detailpage

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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