Review: ‘The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ Ep.1

by Olly MacNamee

The opening episode to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is probably not what you may have expected given how heavily the trailers played up the laughs between odd couple Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). High on action and adventure this opener is very much a scene setter for the two heroes’ inevitable meeting. And tonally it has more in common with other Marvel films than it does with, say, WandaVision. But then this series was supposed to beat WandaVision to air, which would have made more sense given this is very much an additional epilogue to The Avengers: Endgame movie. With the same grand international scale too, which you didn’t get with the far more insular aforementioned show. You can see where the budgets been spent, that’s for sure. It’s almost criminal to call it a TV show when it is essentially a long form Marvel movie in parts.

Set four months after the events of Endgame, we open up with a thrilling chase sequence set above the desert wilderness of Tunisia. The Falcon – who has himself only returned from the dead – is there to save a kidnapped military liaison, which leads to the open air, high stakes duke ‘em up in the clouds. It’s all very reminiscent of the opening action-chase sequence of a James Bond film. But with wings. It’s certainly a statement of intent and one that will appeal to the fans, jokes or not. All expertly directed by Karl Skogland.

Another sombre scene in which Wilson gifts Captain America’s shield to the Smithsonian Institute – and a sneaky cameo from Don Cheadle as Rhodey – and the tone is well and truly set up. It’s an appropriate one too. After all, Cap is dead and a nation still mourns. As does Sam. As the series developed and the past is left behind, that’s when we’ll see the same quota of action, but a more upbeat tone too. The sooner we get out two superheroes together the better. But, this is a marathon and not a race. This whole series will run to a far longer running time than any Marvel film, and so it can take its damn well time about things.

Soon it’s the Winter Soldier’s time to shine. But his entrance onto the stage is more subdued. There’s a therapist’s meeting. All part of his reintroduction into society as ordered by the military. So, you can imagine he’s not too happy with this set-up and plays hardball with a therapist who can give as well as she can take. That’s ex-military for you. There are other domestic scenes that set up Sam’s currently living arrangements with are Spartan to say the least. And a possible love interest too? Maybe not after the first date we witness.

Bucky Barnes is riddled with smouldering guilt, and the extreme close-up we get thought really let’s you know it too. Maybe a bit too much. When you watch the episode you’ll find out why, but he’s not the only one with issues. Sam also has problems, but his are in the main to do with family. A problem he thinks he can solve with a loan, if he can only get one for his sister.

Having seen how actors Mackie and Stan get on so well on press junkets, I cannot wait for that chemistry to debut in this series. They’ll end up being best buddies and helping one another with their various personal problems, I’m sure, but the initial brashness we’ll all seen in the trailer will only elevate what is already a great show even further.

There are Easter eggs – the Flag-Smashers (surely named after Cap villain, Flag-Smasher?), Bucky’s black list containing the name Zemo, amongst others – but it’s the action and personal drama, and jet-setting locations, that will keep you engaged. It’s a superhero espionage thriller in the making, but instead of a tinker, tailor, soldier or spy, we have the Falcon and Winter Soldier. And a killer cliff-hanger to boot.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney + with new episodes dropping every Friday.

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