FROM THE DEN AT WOLF THEATRES — “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a comic-book film with fairly lofty aspirations. But while this second go-round of retro-hero Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America – he of “the greatest generation” – falls short of achieving meaningful social or political commentary or insight, the film never fails to entertain. For the majority of filmgoers attending a film like this, that’s more than sufficient reason to buy a ticket.
Whereas the original “Captain America” – 2011’s “The First Avenger” – was mostly set during World War Two, here Rogers (Chris Evans) lives and works in modern America as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. (to understand how he made this jump in time, see the “Avenger’s” ending.)
S.H.I.E.L.D. is an ultra-cutting-edge espionage and law-enforcement agency with more super heroes under employ than – as an archaic catchphrase once proclaimed – “Carter has Little Liver Pills.” Apparently, S.H.I.E.L.D. has an equal number of double agents on its payroll and when director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is targeted for assassination by dual agents within the organization, it falls to Rogers to ferret out the underlying conspiracy.
High adventure, many-a-gun battle, rooftop chases, underhanded dealings, conspiracies, super soldiers and explosions ensue – lots and lots of explosions. Along the way, “Winter” sermonizes about the state of modern society and the public’s ever-increasing demands for security at the expense of freedom and privacy.
Considering the times in which we live, it’s a relevant message, but it’s done in a ham-fisted way that lacks punch or heft. The message comes across like a comic-book parody instead of a thoughtful or insightful critique of the erosion of modern liberty.