Skip to comments.Captain America: Red, White, and False: Hollywood politics with fake patriotism.
Posted on 04/04/2014 8:04:43 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Seen close up on the 3D screen, actor Chris Evanss ruddy lips, bright complexion, and sparkling eyes look like a Pop Art personification of red, white, and blue patriotism in Marvel Studios Captain American: The Winter Soldier. Referred to as The greatest soldier of all time by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), his paramilitary boss at S.H.I.E.L.D., Evanss Steve Rogers, who was scientifically re-engineered into the ever-youthful, muscle-bound World War II veteran of the title, represents a timeless idea of American strength and virtue: Im 95, Im not dead, he tells flirtatious superhero colleague Natasha (Scarlett Johanssen).
Evanss cartoon image lacks the uncanny moral resonance that distinguished the compassionate Superman in Zack Snyders Man of Steel the best in the recent surfeit of comic-book movies, where feeling and action were combined to a graphic/spiritual purpose. Evanss emblematic face has no emotion behind it. What he conveys, actually, given the way the actor plays down physical passion in favor of bland duty, is a political anachronism. Thats because in todays Hollywood the idea of an honest, uncomplicated fighting soldier is more foreign than a Prius.
This fact makes the latest installment of Marvels Captain America franchise oddly insincere and unconvincing. It vitiates that sometimes disingenuous phrase I support the troops. Instead, the films subtitle recalls the 1972 documentary Winter Soldier, in which Vietnam veterans repented their battlefield violence. Such disillusionment now infects even a comic-book franchise, so that the Captain America idea stops short of nationalist fervor. As Rogers takes his daily superhuman run around the basin of Washington, D.C., he introduces himself to another morning runner (and us) with the repeated look-out phrase On your left . . . Not a coincidence.
Through modish reinvention, Captain America a dated, sanctimonious brawler-innocent represents the undeniable fantasy of a particular political perspective. Leaning to the left, he prevails over internal threats to U.S. security (in the form of a neo-Nazi underground called Hydra, whose members include a senator and a State Department honcho played by Robert Redford). Yet the motivation for his intrepidness isnt deep; it lacks a certain conviction. The fanboy audience (including adults), which has more dedication to the comic-book genre than to the Selective Service, may cheer him on with hollow enthusiasm while falling for Hollywoods imaginary patriotism. Ignoring the complexities of realpolitik, moviegoers respond to formulaic CGI action scenes as if saluting the flag.
In The Winter Soldier, talk opposing the deployment of drone-like aircraft yet defending the release of government secrets via Internet links gives this sci-fi fantasy the pretense of topicality. The filmmakers, producer Kevin Feige and directing team Anthony and Joe Russo, casually referred to this as a political film. But the politics are merely au courant as shallow as the red, white, and blue shield that Rogers wears magnetized to his back. That it makes him resemble a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is fitting for an enterprise where a cartoonish, idealized icon stands in for military respect that has largely vanished from popular culture. The Winter Soldier, with its doomsday threat borrowed from Dr. Strangelove and a subplot, about Rogerss boyhood-friend-turned-automaton, borrowed from The Manchurian Candidate, provides a trite simulation of political urgency. Its all folderol, which, in movies these days, has taken the place of genuine political substance and patriotic feeling: ersatz heroism and charade ethics.
When the filmmakers go through the motions of combat and national defense (the Russo brothers action technique is way behind Zack Snyders visionary kinetics and indistinguishable from the explosions and gymnastics in a dozen other blockbusters), the audience can only go through similar motions of routine relief, unsurprised recognition, and empty gratitude.
Most notably ersatz in The Winter Soldier is superannuated Redfords first super-villain role. No longer Hollywoods golden-boy hero a crown passed on to young Evans Redford yet flies Tinseltowns liberal colors, last seen in his disastrous, self-directed The Company You Keep, a dismally obvious apologia for Sixties radicals. That position is also apparent here in his sarcastic portrayal of an autocratic politician who harbors fascist intentions beneath a D.C. wonks mask. To build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down he says while viewing the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument from his office window. Redford used to play subtler political games in films like The Candidate, Sneakers, and especially the underrated post-9/11 dialectic Lions for Lambs (his more famous and overrated All the Presidents Men and Three Days of the Condor were simply unabashed liberal rabble-rousers). But when this rogue politician murmurs his final words Hail, Hydra! it is embarrassing proof that the Hollywood blockbuster has not only gone political but also gone stupid. It is the whoriest moment of Redfords ersatz political career.
Film critic Armond White is author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the upcoming What We Dont Talk About When We Talk About the Movies.
Stopped reading there.
Seen close up on the 3D screen, actor Chris Evans ruddy lips, bright complexion, and sparkling eyes look like a Pop Art personification of red, white, and blue patriotismThey just had to invoke Andy Warhol, didnt they.
The title Winter Soldieer had nothing to do with any Vietnam Era drivel. It was both a reference to him being frozen in ice until the Soviets revived him and turned him into an assassin, and their policy of freezing him between missions due to his instability. I have not yet seen the movie, but my first impression is that the reviewer does not care for Marvel, preferring DC. Up until now, the movie version of Captain America has been quite good.
Pop culture has rarely had respect for the military and now, with O'Stinkburger's new "Don't Ask, Just Do Me", Drag Queen, metrosexual military, many more are loosing respect.
I am glad to see the American fighting man portrayed in a positive light and hope to see more of the same.
That description actually sounds more like the work of Roy Lichtenstein than Andy Warhol.
He liked "Man of Steel"?
OK, now his taste and judgment in movies is seriously suspect.
Huge slam on NSA type spying, data collection, drone warfare and where this type of government even in the USA is leading.
“Saw this last night...”
Did you like it? I’m pretty excited about seeing it this weekend myself. Then again, I’m one of the fanboys the review writer rips in his vapid and worthless review.
Mr. White, you are a mental case.
I am an artist. I do not work for Marvel, I am now just doing stories for myself.
Marvel would never print my Captain America story. They would rather attack the Tea Party. Which they did in the book.
I love Cap, because he was created by two jewish kids who saw a threat coming and used their talents to combat the Nazis before America even got into the war.
I approached my story after I saw an illustration of Cap crying over the Twin Towers. CRYING! Cap didn’t cry over Pearl Harbor and like most Americans I am sure he was angry and then wanted revenge.
In my story SHIELD is now run by a bureaucrap that is gay and looks very much like sean I’llblowadictator penn. He was put in place by hitlary.
I also use alec baldwin and the a-hole actor private pyles from Full Metal Jacket. During a WW2 flashback I use real Americans like Bogie, The Duke, Jimmy Stewart, Cagney, Gable, and Mitchum to show the contrast between these so called actors who aren’t even Americans in my opinion.
I also put the blame on Clunton for the attack. the POS knew of these plans in 96. (read Dereliction of Duty) So when Hitlary tried to say “when did the president know?” maybe she should ask her beard the same question. BJ also dismissed the first attack on the towers.
So I have a story within that Cap almost took BJ’s head off for selling plots in Arlington. And it took 22 secret service men to pull him off. The fact that Clunton ( L is silent) loathed the military makes me feel that Cap would hate this draft dodging commie.
This is a comic so of course I have a story line of Hitler’s werewolves being real werewolves. Hey Stalin was trying to breed gorillas with women to create an army of soldiers. And I think I explain the werewolf myth pretty well.
Since The camps were being filled with gypsies and if you watch the old Lon Cheney Wolfman this was how the nazis were going to catch a werewolf. I also explain how Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos got their monicker.
I like mixing in the truth with fiction.
Sure it’s just comic books. But when your lively hood is taken away from you and you lose your house and people who know nothing about your business are sitting in corner offices and making bonuses off your work (more than your year salary) and take your credit while they are destroying the company, you can see where this country is going.
I saw it tonight and the movie is outstanding from all aspects. The action is great, the character interactions are great, but the script is top notch!
"If you try to take freedom by force, people fight back. So, we learned that people will be willing to give up their freedom if they feel threatened."
I loved the first one (happen to be a student of WWII), but I just saw this sequel and honestly, I may not see another Marvel movie...they are ALL THE SAME! Same mayhem, cars flipping, big nasty flying machines doing nosedives into screaming pedestrians...it.’s getting very old and boring
You're right. It has to do with the Revolutionary War. Valley Forge, to be exact.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
The "summer soldier" that Paine wrote of was the person who didn't mind playing soldier when the times were easy, but couldn't hack it when times got tough.
"Winter soldier" was the opposite of "summer soldier." The Winter Soldier toughed it out during the hard times, but stayed true to the cause of Independence.
Ridiculous review. It seems more like the reviewer is just trying to impress us with all of the movies he has seen.
Though late to this discussion, I saw it last night (Sat) and left with a feeling of foreboding.
The tie in to current events, what with NSA snooping/Universal healthcare w/electronic records/IRS bullypit . .. it was quite unsettling. Entertaining, worth the admission price, but unsettling. That Robert Redford played the most appropriate part, worthy of his progressive sainthood was a bonus. One of his acting last roles as this type of character is fitting to say the least.
I also like the line in the movie when Redford was being harassed by the politicians, his response was classic, "Nothing a few earmarks can't fix"
Looking forward to this, but my wife and I have pretty much decided to forego seeing movies in the theater at this point. We just upgraded to a 70” TV and new Blu-ray, both 3D capable, so other than just seeing it soon, there’s not much incentive to pay the high prices (plus parking at the theater we go to) and roll the dice whether or not some cretin will be texting in front of you or kicking the back of your chair. We can just wait for the video release and have a comparable experience in the comfort of our own home, dog in lap, choice of snacks, and the ability to take a restroom break if need be without missing anything.
Granted, in the case of the Marvel universe, there may be some continuity issues if they’re going to be doing crossovers with the TV series, but still...
“The tie in to current events...”
I saw it Sat with my kids and really enjoyed it. I had to explain who Batrok and Zola were. The warning message was very clear.
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