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‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The Complete First Season’ 4K Blu-ray (review)

Disney

 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (which sounds far too much like the earlier movie, The Falcon and the Snowman) is a chore to get through.

In my opinion, it’s probably the least successful of the Disney+ MCU TV series. I believe the fault lies in its leisurely pace as well as in the fact that its two leading actors, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, good ones though they are, are lacking the “can’t take your eyes off them” charisma of some of the bigger name MCU stars.

Of course, the stars of WandaVision weren’t exactly A-listers and that worked beautifully so, in the end, I have to blame the fact that it’s about 6 hours long as opposed to a typical, action-filled 3-hour MCU feature film.

What’s it all about?

For the first couple of episodes, I had only a vague idea.

While the overall plot did eventually become a little clearer, I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure what it was all about even now. There was just never anything to make me feel invested in it

As a Marvel series, it depended a lot on the viewer being up-to-date with MCU continuity.

You had to know about Captain America and what happened to him, you had to know about the Shield. You had to know The Countess, Sharon Carter, Baron Zemo, Wakanda, Vibranium, the Super Soldier formula, John Walker, Dr. Erskine, The Flag Smashers, The Blip.

If you weren’t hip to The Blip, you’d be even more confused than I was.

In theory a superhero show, we start out with some exciting costumed heroics from The Falcon and Redwing in Episode One, only to spend most of the next few episodes with Mackie skulking around warehouses and the mean streets of a midnight town with a gun, almost like a generic spy film. Bucky…or Buck, or the Winter Soldier, or James or whatever you want to call him, seems little more than a tagalong in most episodes, spending most of his time arguing with Sam (the Falcon) Wilson.

I just felt like I was waiting the whole time for Steve Rogers to show up, tell them to stop fighting each other, and then save the day, which he never did.

The plot boils down to the cliché of the bad guys have stolen a secret formula and the good guys want to get it back. It’s given a little nuance by virtue of the fact that the bad guys—some of them at least—feel they’re actually doing the right thing.

There’s a secondary plot going on as well, though, and it’s by far the most interesting aspect of the series.

John Walker, a character I came to truly hate in the comics, is chosen to be the new Captain America, and Sam and Bucky both resent the heck out of it, especially the fact that he’s given Steve’s shield, which Sam had turned over to the government as an historic artifact. Unlike in the comics, though, Walker’s story here is given a much more sympathetic spin, courtesy of the surprisingly impressive performance of Wyatt Russell.

Russell, whose father Kurt was already a part of the MCU as Ego, the Living Planet, is someone I had not seen act before but whom I will definitely be paying attention to from now on. He brings the necessary gung-ho attitude when first chosen but then gets across much deeper feelings on several levels as the show progresses.

The plot largely goes away after episode four but for the surprising reveal of the “Big Bad.”

Episode Five has a wholly different feel to it and episode six meanders through a bunch of character bits designed both to tie up loose ends and to set up a new, still upcoming Marvel movie.

Extras include art cards, featurette, gag reel, deleted scenes and the Disney+ documentary, Assembled: The Making of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”.

While I can’t deny I enjoyed parts of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, particularly Mackie and Russell, the meandering threads never really pulled together for me and actually began to unravel as time went on.

Unless you’re an MCU completist, you can skip this one if you want and not really miss much.

 

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