I thought I understood the title before I saw the film; now that I’ve seen it, I’m not so sure. Thomas Paine’s famous The American Crisis begins: “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.” That is, the summer soldier will bivouac when the weather’s fine, but hightails it for home when the wind blows chill and the snow falls. Captain America is not a summer soldier. He’s in it for the long haul, till the war is done. In other words, he’s a winter soldier. But then the film introduces an adversary known as The Winter Soldier who’s enhanced like Cap but little more than an automaton. Huh? Did I miss something?
Whatever, it’s an impressive action film that has something to say. Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states: “In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.” This is what seems to be happening in SHIELD throughout “Winter Soldier,” and its intrusions on American freedoms in the name of “security” resonate with the real world outside the movie theater. Cap isn’t buying and this puts him at odds with SHIELD and those trying to use it for their own ends. The FF score would be zero except for my zipping through fight scenes which invariably bore me.