Captain America: The Winter Soldier
As homogeneous as Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe is, the attempts to play up different tones and genres with its recent lot of films have brought welcome flashes of character, even if the success rate is erratic. Half of Iron Man 3 is practically a Lethal Weapon movie, Thor: The Dark World is pure gobbledegook fantasy, while Captain America: The Winter Soldier applies conspiracy thriller leanings to the otherwise standard superhero action formula.
The Captain’s latest outing has the most propulsive, creatively plotted narrative of any of these Marvel movies to date, and is the one with the most compelling thematic core, even if much of its paranoia beats ultimately end up as scene dressing rather than anything particularly well explored. The Russo brothers, mostly known for TV comedies like Community, also prove capable action directors, and an amiable Anthony Mackie is a welcome addition as paratrooper ally Falcon.
There’s something lacking throughout the film, though. The Winter Soldier is consistently engaging, exciting in bursts, but there’s not one point in which the film ever excels. In comparison to the very messy Thor sequel, something that’s just steadily solid is a preferable counterpoint, but you're left wishing for a more impactful flavour to take away once the credits – and, indeed, post-credit scenes – have rolled. [Josh Slater-Williams]