Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Actor Gerard Butler has been left spooked as storylines from his new film Olympus Has Fallen play out in real-life as if producers had a premonition about the future. The action thriller, chronicles the rising tensions between North and South Korea, as well as America's attempt to aid their allies before a terrorist attack is carried out on the White House in Washington, D.C.
The film was shot in early 2012, well before the communist country threatened to bomb the United States with nuclear missiles and Butler admits the parallels are startling.
He tells GQ magazine, "It's almost like we had a crystal ball. The headline (of the newspaper) was something like, 'Obama assures South Koreans that the U.S. will back them up.' That's the opening scene for the movie!"
And he's also convinced the film's writers knew it wouldn't be long before a woman was appointed head of the Secret Service.
Angela Bassett's role in the film was originally intended for a man, but the part was rewritten when director Antoine Fuqua opted to cast a woman.
Butler says, "We used Angela Basset as the head of the Secret Service; last month (Mar13) they appointed a female head of the Secret Service (Julia Pierson). I'm just wondering what's next... Let's hope that's it!"
However, the 300 star insists he's glad the movie is so topical, adding, "It's one of those things. It's always more interesting to make a movie about what is relevant in your society. What's the political global backdrop? What are our threats? What are we vulnerable to? Because that's what an audience vibes on - that is what people are interested in, universally.
"For many years it was the U.S. against the USSR, then they became buddies and they stopped making movies about that. In fact, I have a great script right now which is still about that. It's one of the best scripts I've ever read, but just because it's about Russia and the U.S. we're thinking, 'How do you change it to update it and make it relevant?'"