Now "The winter soldier" is everything a Captain America movie should be. While it maintains some of the humour that now has become the trademark of Marvel films, TWS is way more serious than all of them combined. And this is truly where the film feels so brave and yes different than any other superhero flicks that we have seen. Which brings me to the most important point, the plot. While of course it is not going to be the most original or complicated film of the century, there is the basic screen writing elements that so much lack from modern day blockbusters. You have the (likable) characters and a mystery they need to solve along with a racing clock. It reminded me the 70's political paranoia thrillers (3 days of the Condor - another Redford link, The parallax view, Z) and it is a welcome tone that makes the WS to differentiate itself from the rest. There are strong scenes regarding political fear, control, and information manipulation but it never feels bloated or overbearing. the purpose is to entertain even if it manages to squeeze through a bit of political views with Rogers replacing the viewer's voice on screen. At one point there is a talk about who is who which results in every man for himself mayhem in one of the most interesting sequences that you may see this year. We do not get this stuff these days! Besides the charged plot, the introduction of new characters and the mega mayhem in the streets of Washingthon DC, the Russos have found time (and they should bloody do since TWS is 2 and a half hours long!) to inject some sentiments in the proceedings - a visit to Peggy, a confrontation with Fury regarding SHIELDs actions, Bucky's memory recall, Natasha's kissing talk. They could have easily skip these "crap" but instead the extra running time feels adjusted and coherent with a bit of more characterization which results to bring us closer to the on screen counterparts. However, the action is what took me by surprise. The bar has been set higher now. It is truly unbelievable to think that these two directors (of the "Community" fame) came with such inventive ways of using Cap's shield. Finally, the shield gets to be seen in all of its glory. In addition, all the fist fights (and they are many) are excellent examples and putting the glasses to the school of frantic edit (which I truly despise) with varied and rapid choreography. A terrific elevator fight sequence probably stands out as truly memorable whereas the encounters with the Winter Soldier never feel repetitive. The Russo brothers keep changing the game from stealth and cloak missions, to car chases, to gun fires, to dog fights, to fist fights. There is something for everyone here and it is arguably among the finest I have seen. Impressive considering their credits. Real stunt work (backflips, wrestle moves, somersaults, etc), real fights and it is a pleasing sight to go away from superhero duels of the Avengers, Thor and Iron man. These characters rely on instincts and bullets. No more and no less and most of them do have some brutal moments for a PG-13 film (and blood too). The actors are absolutely brilliant in their roles. While Evans came out as a bit arrogant in the "Avengers" and the least interesting character, here he truly shines. First time ever, I actually bought what he was bringing on the table. This is a soldier who believed in protecting the people and their freedom. Here though, in the modern era of espionage with multiple intrigues and political events, he finds himself unable to identify which side he is on and for what. At one point he even considers himself Fury's caretaker of terrorist "problems". The other side of the coin is Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury and Robert Redford's Alexander Pierce. It is nice to see Jackson expanding his role from 1 minute cameo in "Iron Man" to a fully supporting actor here. But the real standout is Robert Redford. Kevin Feige (the producer) probably knows how to do casting because so far there has not been a single acting mistake. Bringing heavy-acting-weight Redford to a superhero film is actually a bold move and while most movies do not focus on the talented cast, here the Russo brothers give Redford plenty of close ups and necessary gravitational dialogue that kept surprised me for a "summer" and "mindless" blockbuster. Antony Mackie plays Falcon believably enough and it is very good to see a great supporting turn instead of being the comedic sidekick. The winter soldier now himself is as you would have expected? probably the best villain outside Loki(!) in the marvel films. A truly unstoppable and cool killing machine that shows no remorse or regret considering his complete disregard (and destructive) actions throughout the film. Shaw manages to bring a bit of menace to a generally light hearted series of fantasy films as he has to act more with his eyes rather than sharing any scenes of actual dialogue. Is it perfect? Of course not but it does not feel that it is drugging forever or raising any boring flags. There is plenty of plot, intelligence and sweet characters moments to keep anyone satisfying. This is blockbuster at its finest, a superhero film with heart, immersive action and subtle touches of humour. Totally recommended.