In the first movie, an injection transformed wimpy Steve Rogers into strapping Captain America; similarly, this sequel gives the flagging comic-book movie an adrenaline shot of relevance. You've got to hand it to them.
With a string of gratifying action sequences, and a breakneck pace leavened by a frequently witty script, The Winter Soldier stands alone as a solidly entertaining blockbuster.
It may climax with an overly formulaic splurge, but The Winter Soldier benefits from an old-school-thriller tone that, for its first half at least, distinguishes it from its more obviously superheroic Marvel cousins.
This installment delivers a heavy and welcome dose of paranoia, administered between fleetly paced smackdowns.
It’s to the credit of the Russos that they give the characters such room to breathe in a movie that easily might have been about rushing from one gargantuan setpiece to the next.
The Hollywood Reporter
For sheer plotting and audience involvement, this is a notch above any of the other Avengers-feeding Marvel entries, the one that feels most like a real movie rather than a production line of ooh-and-ahh moments for fanboys.
Arriving in the middle of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Winter Soldier is among the best of the nine films released so far—roughly on par with the first Iron Man and The Avengers—but if the film has one major flaw, it’s the obligation to serve a larger franchise that keeps taking on weight.
The Winter Soldier is probably in the upper tier of Marvel pictures in terms of quality, but ultimately proves too muddled and frantic to match the heights of "The Avengers."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
It’s OK for April, in other words, but not up to the higher standards of a Marvel summer blockbuster.
You can’t help but feel disappointed that a film with a relatively spicy premise becomes, in the end, so risk-averse.