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By Shane M. Dallmann

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Sorry for the somewhat delayed review–I’ve been just a little bit busy these days! But look at it this way, by now all the “Hail Hydra” memes must be making sense to you, right?

For the record, I haven’t followed the TV series AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and have no insight as to how “stuff just got real” over there, and if I was supposed to recognize any upcoming characters in the credit cookies, I didn’t. No, these days, I’m basically aware of the M-Verse in the form of recent movies.

Anyhow. The second CAPTAIN AMERICA solo film (well, by title… you know that Black Widow is in it, too, and you’re probably aware that this film marks the first appearance of another Marvel mainstay) has Steve Rogers still uneasily making the transition from the 1940s to the present day, particularly when it comes to technology. Not just the Internet, etc., either… in as topical a theme as possible, Rogers (Chris Evans) and Nick Fury (you know DAMN well who) have an ethical clash over techno/military advances designed “for the greater good” at the expense of individual privacy… and perhaps even basic human rights (life itself, for a start). Then there’s a little incident involving Fury and a traffic stop…

Well… it’s just relentless from there on out. Long story short, we discover that the secret weapons of S.H.I.E.L.D. aren’t exclusively in the hands of the “good guys,” Cap finds himself a fugitive, and a smiling, self-assured Robert Redford easily assumes control of the situation. And yes, there’s that Winter Soldier with which to contend, and he adds a special level of intensity to the proceedings. The combat sequences range from battlefield warfare to vehicular mayhem to close-quarters brutality (“Before we get started, does anybody want to get off?”) with equal aplomb, there are surprises to be had, and the narrative never flags. This is scarcely the sort of film I need to review because pretty much everybody who wants to see it at all already has… but in all honesty, I would rank WINTER SOLDIER as the best solo Marvel since the original IRON MAN. And that’s saying a lot.

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