The word “patriot” has several definitions and connotations to Americans. There’s the New England football Patriots, the antiaircraft missile, the name given to revolutionaries in tri-cornered hats and more.
And when we say a person is “patriotic,” it often means a person who supports or defends our country.
But in recent times, the word has taken on another meaning, one more closely related to those fellows in tri-cornered hats. Especially fueled by tea-party types and avid constitutionalists, the word “patriot” has specifically come to mean – to use Dictionary.com’s second entry for the word – “a person who regards himself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.”
By this definition, the reincarnation of comic book superhero Captain America in the hit film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a true “patriot.”
Once again, Hollywood has made the decision (mistake?) of turning to a superhero to carry a story, but instead of advancing stereotypical leftist dogma (really, victims work better for that purpose than heroes), once again the hero whistles a tune straight out of 1776.
Really, however, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. With the incredible overreaches of Obamacare, the NSA, the IRS being used as a political weapon, clamping down on journalists, spy drones, labeling everyday Americans like returning war vets as potential domestic terror threats and creating a kill list of Americans actually deemed terror threats, the Obama administration has swung so far toward tyranny, even Hollywood liberals are bound to get nervous.
The directors of the film even asserted this was part of the point.
“[Marvel] said they wanted to make a political thriller,” Joe Russo, who directed the film with his brother Anthony, told the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones. “So we said if you want to make a political thriller, all the great political thrillers have very current issues in them that reflect the anxiety of the audience. … That gives it an immediacy, it makes it relevant. So [Anthony] and I just looked at the issues that were causing anxiety for us, because we read a lot and are politically inclined. And a lot of that stuff had to do with civil liberties issues, drone strikes, the president’s kill list, preemptive technology.”
All of which makes it in to “Winter Soldier,” which zings out a list of storylines and quotes that would make Benjamin Franklin (or even James Madison) proud.
From an entertainment perspective, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is a rock-’em, sock-’em blockbuster, with fantastic visuals, beautifully choreographed (but brutal) fight scenes, dazzling techno-wizardry and a perfect balance between intrigue and lighthearted fun. Frankly, I thought this second film in the Cap’ franchise was far better than the first.
Comic book lovers will geek out over sneak peaks and references to their favorite characters, while action-movie buffs will appreciate the weaponry, aerial battles and more. In the end, it comes down to this: This movie is just plain cool.
And while the story isn’t taken too seriously and the actors won’t be remembered come Oscar season, there’s still a strong, underlying theme that rings loud and clear, like Captain America striking his famous shield against the Liberty Bell.
Cap’ notices early in the film, for example, that a plan is being hatched to secure the world from war and terror by launching an eye-in-the-sky megaweapon that can pinpoint and kill anyone on earth who threatens to cause harm.
“I thought the punishment came after the crime,” he muses, even while he’s told to “get with the times” instead of living in his antiquated view of justice and freedom.
Still, Cap’ says, “This isn’t freedom; this is fear.”
Later in the film, the villain realizes plans for world domination never work when individual liberty is assaulted directly.
“Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly,” he explains, noting further that humanity can be threatened so badly that it’s “willing to sacrifice its freedom for security.”
I seem to recall one of those tri-cornered hat fellas warning of exactly that (see Franklin, Benjamin, keywords “liberty” and “security”).
By the time the villain’s full plot is exposed, the movie’s message is clear: Trying to “bring order” to society at the expense of individual liberty is not only tyrannical, it’s practically Nazi-ish – a premise that makes Obama’s direction for this nation very awkward, but makes where “patriots” stand abundantly clear.
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is rated PG-13, primary for violence, which includes plenty of gunfire, explosions and extensive hand-to-hand combat. Audiences will cringe at some of the fighting, which shows off Captain America’s strength, but is a bit startling in its brutality.
- The film contains 18 obscenities and profanities, most – but not all – of the more minor variety.
- The movie’s sexuality is also fairly light, consisting of a kiss, a couple of shirtless guys, a gal’s bare belly, a bit cleavage and a few sexual innuendos.
- The film contains only a couple of religious references: a person swearing on a Bible before testifying and a Scripture verse on a tombstone.