They call this film a sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, but I prefer to label CAWS as a start to what can be described as an epic saga to the kid from Brooklyn embarking on his destiny.  The First Avenger is an introduction to the hero, and The Winter Soldier is the main course to the Captain America story.

Taking place in the present, Steve Rogers/Captain America uses his super ability and his patriotic sense of duty to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.(don’t ask me to spell out the anagram, because it will give me a migraine.)  At first everything is going well with the SH.I.E.L.D.missions, until that little voice inside his noggin gives him reason to doubt the sincerity of the very organization he is working for.  The growing sense of doubt in Captain America’s mind is increased by the questionable actions and the military projects that S.H.I.E.L.D is working on.  His boss, Nick Fury, is the one person he can trust, but even his view on how S.H.I.E.L.D should run clashes with the Captain, nevertheless  Captain is a soldier first, and he follows orders.

Chris Evans, who plays the lead role, definitely raised his performance as Steve Rogers/Captain America.  His performance gave me the impression of a man out of his time, but still retains his sense of duty and honor to his country.  He struggles to find allies in a world that is not so easily black and white.  It is great to see Chris give Captain America a modern makeover and letting us see him handle whatever comes his way; whether it is a beat down or dealing with uncomfortable social situations.  Chris Evans is Captain America.

From the beginning of the movie, the danger that the Captain goes through gets bad to worse.  To help him out of the dangerous spots, he gets assistance from a few new friends and some we already know.  He befriends another soldier, Sam Wilson, who is a disabled veteran, but carries himself with the utmost courage, and bravery.  They immediately form a strong bond from serving in the military.  Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson, and he is a wonderful addition to the cast.  Anthony is a great choice for this role.  He brings strength and wit to the character.  He is a great compliment to Chris Evans, Captain America.  They mesh well.  His harness pack that springs into wings is by far one of the coolest things I ever saw on the big screen.  He actually flew like a bird, sorry a falcon.

Scarlett Johanssen reprises her role as Natasha Romanov/Black Widow.  Although she was not in the first film, her character is important because she is a bridge between her loyalty with S.H.I.E.L.D. and her loyalty with Captain America.  Scarlett uses her feminine charm and athletic fighting skills to give Natasha a well-rounded personality.  She uses humor to lighten some of the heavy action scenes, but she can also kick the living crap out of anyone who gets in her way.  When I first saw her in Iron Man 2, and then Avengers as the Black Widow, I knew her character would stand out and offer the right amount of Lefemme Nikita-esque quality to those films.  Her sultry tone and intense fighting skills would make any guy fall in love with her or be very frightened.  It was a real joy seeing Scarlett takes Natasha to places where we haven’t seen her in.

Samuel L Jackson, who plays Nick Fury, once again did a great job.  We get to dig deeper into the world of Nick Fury.  Jackson uses his brilliant acting skills to create a much more complex character and giving us a better understanding as to why Fury does what he does.  When we first saw Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, people had mixed opinions about that, because in the old comics, Nick was white.  But after watching him play the iconic role, there was nobody else that could play the part.

The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan added a layer of intensity and thrill to the already complex and multilayered story.  The fight scenes with Captain America and the Winter Soldier were epic, their strength and agility was evenly matched, and the speed at which they fought was almost inhuman.  Although, I didn’t like how the camera shot the scenes, they were shaky and I got a little dizzy.  Although he didn’t have a lot of speaking parts, his body language spoke volumes.  He is a formidable adversary and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him.

I thought it is genius to cast Robert Redford, who plays senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce, in the film.  He is a legend in the industry, and he made the film ten times better.  The fact that he played a role where he wielded so much political and military power, it made sense to give it to somebody who can convince you into doing anything he wants.  He brings a sense of coolness to his character.  We get to see a different side of S.H.I.E.L.D. through his eyes.  He definitely improved the quality of the story.

The special effects and the hi tech gadgets are wonderful eye candy.  The story is not about Captain America, nor the Winter Soldier, it is much bigger than that.  What this film told me is that everything is connected, from Captain America and the Winter Soldier to S.H.I.E.L.D and its future path.  The world just got more complicated and dangerous.

I love this film; it is complex, adrenaline pumping, sexy, and full of action.  Everything a summer blockbuster needs.  I give it three and a half movie stubs.