Captain America is back in action -- and dealing with a lot more than just super-powered villains -- in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  This movie adds a bit more nuance and thinking to the superhero formula, without shying away from some pretty intense action.
The Winter Soldier opens with Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) working with S.H.I.E.L.D., helping Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) take down some terrorists.  But Fury had his own agenda, and Captain America is getting tired of secrets and being lied to.  In addition, Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) are about to launch Project Insight, which will send three heavily-armed Helicarriers in the air to protect (and strike) anytime there's trouble.  Fury thinks this will stop problems before they start, while Cap thinks it's creating fear, not freedom.
Then things get complicated.  When Fury is looking into Project Insight, he's ambushed by heavily-armed men and managed to drop a flash drive off with Cap before heading to the hospital.  Soon Cap is branded a traitor by Pierce, and the all-American hero is fleeing from S.H.I.E.L.D. while trying to uncover the truth and figure out who can be trusted.  Along the way he's joined by Sam Wilson/the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), a fellow soldier who apparently has unlimited access to a high-tech flying outfit.  There are surprises and twists, old enemies, a threat to millions of people, and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), a powerful assassin with a robotic left arm.

The Winter Soldier joins The Avengers as one of Marvel's best superhero movies.  The cast is terrific, especially Chris Evans as the hero who finds himself adrift not in the modern world's technology and society but in its duplicity and scheming.  There are plenty of appearances from characters in past movies (Cobie Smulders as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Garry Shandling as a senator) and references to other Marvel comics to make fans of the comics happy, while providing enough information for folks who know this universe through the movies alone not to feel lost.

Not all of the twists in the story are surprising (as in many movies, politicians are not to be trusted), but The Winter Soldier manages to combine action, suspense, and mystery into a movie that could have been just more good guys in colorful costumes hitting bad guys in colorful costumes.  The Winter Soldier is a very entertaining superhero movie for adults.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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