You know all those weapons, all those bits of tech they've had lying around in the Marvel films? Well finally someone had the idea of making a film where they just start using all that stuff - and thank goodness for that, because Cap 2 is a cracking action thriller with more bullets than The A-Team and the best use of a minigun since Predator.
First point to make - the trailers haven't spoiled this for you. There's a lot more to the film than the stuff you've seen so far, which makes a nice change. A ton of twists, character reveals, and action moments that are all the better for not expecting them is really refreshing. Top marks to whoever has made the call to hold stuff back, and even twist the trailer stories, you'll be pleasantly surprised in quite a few ways.
Story-wise, it's best not to say too much, other than it's post-Avengers, Steve Rogers trying to find a place as a hero in a world that is far from noble. Before you know it, he's on the run, the most wanted man in America, trying to get to the heart of a pretty massive conspiracy. That's all I'll tell you, because it's a lot more fun finding out - trust me.
Chris Evans has moved Cap on nicely, from the boy-scout turned hero, to the real 'man out of time' who doesn't quite know his place in the world. Even better than that, is a terrific supporting cast. We finally get the Black Widow we've wanted, complex and fully-fleshed out, as well as rock hard. You get the best use of Nick Fury, as a character and an action hero. And Anthony Mackie's Falcon is a really smart and likeable addition. Plus there's a load of extra Marvel characters - some old, some new - nicely weaved into the story.
The Winter Soldier himself is a great villain, an actual proper menace, and something of an unstoppable force. He's so good you wish they gave him a bit more to do, but what you do get is bone cracking, grenade launching, knife twirling menace - it's the most brutal feeling Marvel film so far, and all the better for it.
In fact, it probably has the best action sequences of any of the films so far, trumping even The Avengers for sheer spectacle at times. Frantic car chases, billions of bullets, hard-as-nails fight scenes, this is Captain America grown-up, and seriously cheesed off with the world he finds himself in.
OK, there are a few downsides - it stops early on for a good 20 minutes of set-up, and despite being around the 2hr20m mark, the final showdown feels a little too soon. But when the action is this good, those are minor points. No, it's not as funny as recent efforts like Thor 2 or Iron Man 3, but when it does funny it really hits the spot (I'll say no more than this - gravestone inscription) and doesn't feel crowbarred.
In short - a real cracker, a thrilling film that takes the world of The Avengers into very different places than before, and absolutely leaves you wanting more. Good work chaps, roll on Guardians of the Galaxy...