Marvel comics ex­trav­a­ganza lives up to hype

Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier (12A) ★★★★

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT FILM | MUSIC | GAMING -

PAST AND present col­lide in Anthony and Joe Russo's ac­tion-packed se­quel to the 2011 block­buster, which continues to ex­pand the sprawl­ing Marvel Comics uni­verse.

Ad­dress­ing timely con­cerns about un­rest in the Mid­dle East and the cor­rupt­ibil­ity of the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment, Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier is a bom­bas­tic, big budget ex­trav­a­ganza that's ev­ery bit as en­ter­tain­ing as the open­ing chap­ter.

Screen­writ­ers Christo­pher Markus and Stephen McFeely are duty bound to deliver a mi­asma of ex­plo­sive thrills, and they don't dis­ap­point. A crunch­ing car chase in­volv­ing S.H.I.E.L.D. di­rec­tor Nick Fury (Sa­muel L Jack­son) is edge-of-the-seat stuff and a cli­mac­tic show­down in­volv­ing the tit­u­lar hero and di­a­bol­i­cal Hy­dra lets loose the spe­cial ef­fects wiz­ards.

Amidst the death and de­struc­tion, Markus and McFeely flesh out char­ac­ters and back sto­ries, fan­ning an air of fear and para­noia that harks back to Cold War thrillers of a by­gone mil­i­tary age. The canny cast­ing of Robert Red­ford in a meaty sup­port­ing role con­jures fond mem­o­ries of Three Days Of The Con­dor, which also ex­plored skul­dug­gery within the cor­ri­dors of power.

Set two years af­ter The Avengers, The Win­ter Sol­dier opens with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) ac­cli­ma­tis­ing to life in present day Wash­ing­ton D.C.. In his heroic guise as Cap­tain Amer­ica, he leads a dar­ing res­cue mis­sion at sea, flanked by sexy spy Natasha Ro­manoff (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son) and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s counter-ter­ror­ism unit.

Soon af­ter, Nick Fury es­corts Rogers into the bow­els of the agency's head­quar­ters, which houses three state-of-the-art heli-car­ri­ers. These aerial war­ships, co­de­named Project In­sight, will ex­tin­guish threats to global peace from the skies, killing ter­ror­ists be­fore they have a chance to strike. Alexan­der Pierce (Red­ford), a se­nior mem­ber of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the World Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, echoes Fury's grave con­cerns.

Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier is cut from the same tried and tested cloth as the first in­stal­ment. Evans and Jo­hans­son en­joy ver­bal joust­ing in be­tween their fight se­quences while Anthony Mackie proves a like­able ad­di­tion to the team as winged war­rior Fal­con, who looks at Cap­tain Amer­ica's su­per­hu­man ef­forts and quips, ‘I do what he does. Just slower’.

There's an in­escapable feel­ing through­out that this is an ap­pe­tiser to the main course of a third film in 2016 and sure enough, the Russo broth­ers' pic­ture ends with a cliff-hanger.

True fan boys and girls should stay in their seats for the oblig­a­tory ex­tra scene dur­ing the end cred­its that hints at the mayhem to come in next year's The Avengers: Age Of Ul­tron.

Chris Evans and Scar­lett Jo­hans­son in Cap­tain Amer­ica:TheWin­terSoldier.

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