I was not prepared for the sequel.
Summary, with spoilers, commentary, and a few screenshots
More long driving scenes!
Followed by shots of people playing in the park, with a good look at some people playing Frisbee. Maybe not a good idea to remind the audience that tossing a plastic disc around is actually a safe leisure activity and not a “deadly weapon”? The director doesn’t think so, because after watching some people roller skate down the boardwalk, we watch more people playing Frisbee. And then more roller skating.
Come on, movie! Start already!
Ah. There we go. The second roller skater skates past our hero, Steve Rogers, who is sitting on a tiny folding stool sketching a portrait of a little old lady.
He has to jump up because a man chasing a Frisbee was about to bowl over the old lady. I guess Frisbees can be dangerous. Luckily, Reb was a professional football player, and is well trained to intercept.
That settled, Mrs. Shaw confides in Steve that she and all her friends are terrified because there’s a street gang that’s been preying on the elderly. The gang waits for an old person to cash their pension check and then mugs them! The police have been unable to help because it “happens so fast.” So Steve tells the lady to go cash her check. Sure enough, a thug sees her, snatches her purse, and runs. Captain America bursts out of his van on his motorcycle and catches the purse in midair as the thug tosses it to a gang member riding a beach buggy coming down the street in the opposite direction. The old lady watches (as seen in the GIF in the original post) Cap lightly bonk the bad guy in the back with his shield. Cap then chases the other guy down the beach. With the power of sped-up film, he’s able to run down the beach buggy by jogging after it on foot. He grabs the guy out of his buggy, tosses him into the sand, and says if he tries to do this again after he gets out of prison, he should know that the old people in town are all Cap’s good friends. Problem solved!
THEY TRY TO KILL HIM WITH A FORKLIFT!
That is: A scientist has been kidnapped and cleverly left a secret message that it was Miguel who did it. His work depends on a certain restricted chemical which, if not provided directly by the US government for research purposes, would have to be smuggled in from Ecuador. (The lab doors are inside a secure facility and they have a sophisticated combination lock. But the MP has a master key which allows him to press a button on the lock that… causes the lock to explode. Instead of, you know, unlocking. Go figure.)
So Captain America crashes his motorcycle through some shipping cates, bursting out the other side, and proceeds to beat up some dock workers who are quietly going about their day unloading a ship that recently arrived from Ecuador, smashing more crates in the process. So it’s kind of understandable that one of the dock people would go for the forklift. Steve, having perhaps seen Fugitive Alien when it was released the year before, grabs the forklift by the loading tines and uses his super strength to stop it.
Cap follows the bad guys to a little town in Oregon. (For some reason, even though the evil Miguel clearly points on the map to the city of Portland as his target while standing next to a “STATE OF OREGON” flag, they go out of their way not to name any real places. They just say “this city here” or “a major American city.”) He sets up a stakeout by sitting in a town park painting a portrait of his (never before seen) cat. So the bad guys threaten him to leave town by very menacingly drawing eyeglasses on the cat in the painting and then telling Steve if he doesn’t leave town they’ll do the same to him. Steve, not wearing glasses, assures them that he now has 20/20 vision (meaning he understands the threat and will leave). Maybe it made sense in the 70s?
Miguel, who (according to Steve’s boss) might be French or possibly Dutch or possibly any one of half a dozen suspected identities and backstories (none of which have anything to do with the Spanish language), is hiding in plain sight, posing as a prison warden. (His people killed off the real warden and no one questioned his credentials.) It gives him the facilities he needs and a good cover for them. But the people in the town are all very scared and suspicious. You’d think if Miguel was lying low, he wouldn’t bother them at all. But no. He’s got a gang of thugs who intimidate and beat anyone who gets nosy or out of line. Might as well send up a signal flare while you’re at it.
One of them tries to deliver a quip mid-fight, but doesn’t actually have time for his line. So he has to cram it in at double speed. “You tried to catch a swing, Rogers, buttheballgamesover!” he shouts as he swings his baseball bat at Steve, only to be casually tossed aside.
There’s also an extended conversation Steve has with a little kid (because of course there’s a charming widow with a cute kid) where the microphone pack in the kid’s back pocket takes up half the screen.
But when the kid finds his missing pet lamb, mysteriously dead of old age, word gets back to Miguel. Steve is “too intelligent and too inquisitive” to just be a wandering artist. (Miguel makes no mention of how Steve just singlehandedly beat up Miguel’s 5-man brute squad earlier that day.) He gives an ominous order. “Under no circumstances is Mister Rogers to leave that town.” This clearly isn’t Mister Rogers’s neighborhood.
Remember, Steve found this town by tracing the smuggled drug that was crucial to the scientist’s current research. But we’re also told that he abandoned his anti-aging research (including research into creating accelerated aging so he could better study the process in the pursuit of an anti-aging formula) months ago because it was fruitless. I guess the new line of research also requires the same unnamed controlled substance which can be smuggled in bulk from Ecuador and… Oh. Is this guy just hooked on cocaine and he’s assuring everyone that his vital research (which he conducts inside a locked lab where no one is permitted entry) really really requires large quantities of it?
Anyway, in order to hide the fact that they’ve taken over the prison, the bad guys… Send a Department of Corrections police car to arrest Steve for assaulting the 5 thugs. But when Miguel orders them to kill Steve, they go back to find him missing, the bars on the jail cell window having been bent open by hand. Outside, Captain America loudly zooms by on his motorcycle.
Now, Steve is the only stranger in town. And they just saw him singlehandedly beat up 5 guys, including knocking the support pillars clear out from underneath a balcony with his bare hands. And walk off the beating they gave him with their baseball bats. While in his street clothes. So , naturally, their conclusion is… That Captain America just showed up out of nowhere and rescued Steve.
This leads to an extended sequence where they chase Captain America with a Jeep. And then 4 Jeeps. And then 4 more Jeeps coming from the other side to box him in. But they wait to actually fire their guns until he’s boxed in, meaning any bullet that misses Cap (and of course they all miss Cap) is reasonably likely to hit one of their own guys coming in from the other direction. But never mind that. Because, despite being warned that Cap’s motorcycle will likely just jump over the Jeeps because it can do “damn near anything,” they are utterly shocked when Cap hits the rocket boosters and jumps his motorcycle over… the side of the dam, to free fall all the way down the side, and into the river below. Huh. Actually, I found that rather surprising, too. Steve holds his breath and pretends to be drowned.
Over Portland, following up on his threat, Miguel sends an airplane to… sky write a message? People stand in the streets to watch. I guess there’s not much better to do in Portland? I haven’t been there in a while. “Is that a letter?” “Looks like skywriting? I haven’t seen that for about 15 years!” It spells out S M… They keep watching. It spells S M I L E. One of the people on the street, who is apparently not hooked on phonics, tries to decode this strange message. “Small? Small? SMILL!” Yes, very good. S M I L E spells “smill.” 30 seconds later… “… Oh SMILE! That’s it.” There you go, fella.
But the smoke seems to be dissipating. Which is not something smoke normally does in the wind. At least according to the people of Portland. The city is finally named when the pilot uses a CB radio to announce to them that the smoke is actually a gas which causes rapid aging. (Lab tests by both the bad guy and the good guys have determined that those exposed to the gas age precisely 38 days per hour.) They’re to contact the authorities immediately to ask the government to pay the ransom to get the antidote. Apparently, no one thinks to call the Air Force to intercept the plane. Or air traffic control to trace the plane’s flight path.
To prove he has the antidote, Miguel gives the good guys a sample bottle. Lab tests are unable to determine the composition. Now, they’ve got a mountain lion cub in the lab. One that had been exposed to the gas and aged about a year and a half overnight. At this point, they have no proof that the gas over Portland is the aging gas, or that it’s effective when sprayed into the air a mile up. No one mentions that. Still, the White House liaison suggests they somehow find an animal to test it on. (Gee, if only they had one handy that they were talking about 2 minutes earlier in the same scene…) Maybe it’s poison! But the beautiful science woman (who has been recast since the previous movie) says there’s no time to test it. They have to get it to the victims in Portland. She says she’ll test it on the way. So, aboard Air Force One, she injects herself with it. Having no idea what it is. And not having been exposed to the aging drug herself. So her taking the antidote can’t prove that it works, could potentially be fatal, and could potentially de-age her? She doesn’t even know the right dose. Brilliant.
Steve bullies the charming young widow into talking. They were all sprayed with the aging gas three weeks ago. Miguel’s men have been giving them tiny doses of the antidote every few days, and say they’ll stop doing that and let everyone die if the townspeople don’t cooperate and keep people away. So there wasn’t really much point to Steve beating up the 5 thugs, it seems. Although the townspeople enjoyed watching it from their hiding spots.
Steve comes up with a plan. The henchman posing as the town veterinarian is due to go pick up the antidote from Miguel so he can give everyone their shots tomorrow. They arrive just in time to see him getting into his car. If they’re spotted following him, the whole town suffers. Instead, Steve sends the kid into the bad guy’s car to memorize the odometer reading. Even though everyone knows he’s not actually a vet (Steve proved it to his own satisfaction within 30 seconds of meeting the guy in his office), young Pete asks him to come help his mare deliver her calf, due in June. Which does not raise the phony doc’s suspicions at all and somehow does not endanger Pete.
Pretty science lady lands in Portland and goes to the hospital. There’s a pair of infant twins there who have been exposed to the gas. So, without consulting the parents, she injects one of the babies with the antidote and leaves them both for an hour. Science! (It works. One of the babies supposedly ages a month while the other doesn’t. You’ll have to take our word for it because we only briefly get to see the other baby and it actually looks smaller than the twin who was injected.)
The vet returns. Now, they could send Pete to look at the odometer again. But they don’t. Instead, the mom goes to keep the vet busy while the kid waits in the truck. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone else on sight, they’re all vigilantly watching for strangers because their lives depend on it, and Steve is in hiding because he just escaped from the bad guys’ prison. So… he puts on a jacket and a wide-brimmed hat and casually walks over to peer in through the open window of the bad guy’s car and scrape away at his tires while people walk and drive by, staring at him. This does not look at all suspicious. What could go wrong?
Apparently nothing. With the odometer reading, a leaf from a local weed, and a bit of fresh tar, they’re able to piece together that it must be the prison 43 miles outside of town.
Now, the bad guys have checkpoints all around the town. And they all know what Steve’s van looks like. But Steve gives the widow a reassuring kiss on the lips, so she shows him a back road that lets him drive right up to the prison without being noticed? He watches the prison gates open and close, times how long that takes, waits for the next car (conveniently immediately after) to pull up, and bursts through on his motorcycle before they shut again. The gate guard sounds the alarm. Miguel somehow knows this means that specifically Captain America has intruded. He’s very upset that Cap isn’t dead, after all. So he orders his henchman to release the hounds… after giving them a triple dose of the aging compound. Yes, that will do it. Sic the dogs on him after ensuring they’ll… rapidly age and die? Brilliant! Cap will never be able to fight them if they die of old age!
There’s a pointless scene of Cap driving his motorcycle through the hallway into the empty warden’s office and back out. Miguel flees with the remaining aging drug and antidote, leaving the dogs to guard the corridor. Cap, now on foot, runs right into them. He holds them off with his shield (the only part of him they try to attack) and closes the corridor gate, allowing him to walk down to the lab to find the missing scientist (who explains that he was being forced to keep working or else the people in town would all die). We don’t see the dogs again, so there’s no explanation whatsoever as to the point of giving them the aging drug.
Cap hears the PA announce the warden (whom most of the guards believe is legit) is leaving, so he… slides down the bannister of the front steps. We’ve established that he can run at super speed, but I guess this is faster and more dignified?
The prison guards, hearing the announcement on the PA that Captain America has been sighted in the yard, proceed to try to shoot him. The guy’s a superhero with a well-known reputation at this point, but sure. Shoot on sight, no questions asked. Luckily, his bulletproof shield is painted to look like target rings, so that’s all they hit. Clever.
Cap grabs a bag of… flour, I think? Being offloaded in the prison yard. The wall guards have stopped shooting, and the loading guys just look bewildered. So he runs off, heaves it at the far wall, and runs off to retrieve his motorcycle while everyone looks over at his distracting flour explosion.
Obviously, they aren’t going to open the gate for him this time. So he uses his super strength to toss the motorcycle to the top of the wall, jumps up after it, rides it off the top of the wall at full speed, and hits a switch marked “DEPLOY.” The motorcycle, it seems, has been equipped with a new gadget, and it’s 3 years before Ator…
Don’t ask me how that was hidden inside the motorcycle’s seat. Apparently this also confuses the guard, who tries to aim at the thing and just lowers his gun with an utterly befuddled expression on his face.
The hang glider, with no further means of propulsion, is able to keep up with Miguel’s fleeing car. There’s an extended chase sequence along a straight stretch of road before Cap lands, jettisons the glider, and continues on the motorcycle. (The switches to deploy and jettison the glider are the same ones from the previous movie that were used to trigger the rocket and jet boosts, but they’ve now been relabled. The third switch is still for silent running. Oddly, the switches on the dashboard as seen over Cap’s shoulder are two on the top and one below, but the close-ups of the switches always show them as one on top and two below.)
Miguel inexplicably drives into a dead end park road and flees into the woods with a suitcase full of the remaining drug and antidote vials as well as a rifle from the prison. Cap chases him into the woods and uses his super hearing (yes, he’s got super senses as well as super strength) to pinpoint him. He then announces that, prompting Miguel to tiptoe around to the side. A move he then undercuts by shouting that he’s not going to give up to an unarmed man.
Miguel unloads a full clip at Cap, but only hits the shield. He goes to reload, and Cap throws the shield, as seen in the GIF above. Miguel reloads while it flies past, then dodges when it comes back, and it flops in the dirt at Cap’s feet. “You didn’t expect to fool an old jungle fighter with a boomerang trick like that did you?” Yes. Jungles. Well known for being excellent places to throw boomerangs, with nothing that could possibly get in the way of their flight path.
Cap now stands, unarmed, with his shield in the dirt, while Miguel has a loaded assault rifle. “Doesn’t matter, General,” Cap declares. “There’s nowhere to go.” They’re in the open woods in the middle of rural Oregon, and Cap has no backup. He’s also had no chance to tell anyone where they are or what’s going on.
Miguel says that no general expects to win every battle. They always have a ready line of retreat. A helicopter flies in overhead. He had no chance to call it. So apparently he arranged to have the helicopter meet him here? In the woods? The pilot scans the area, but all he can see is trees. The POV shot shows no sign of Cap, Miguel, or a place to land.
Miguel aims the rifle at Cap’s head, but Cap kicks the shield up from the dirt and catches it just in time to block the shots. Miguel drops the gun and rushes to open the suitcase. Cap, who was previously shown to be able to outrun a speeding buggy, stands there and watches. Miguel tosses a bottle of the aging drug, but Cap throws his shield, shattering the bottle, which splashes all over Miguel, who rapidly develops deep wrinkles.
Miguel, instead of running for the antidote bottles in the suitcase at his feet, tackles Cap. Cap, despite having the strength to bend steel in his bare hands and toss a motorcycle to the top of a 30-foot prison wall, briefly struggles to hold off his geriatric assailant. Then Miguel falls over and dies. The helicopter lands, and Cap tells the pilot that Miguel died of old age waiting for him. Sure, Cap, most noble of heroes, make a quip about the guy who just died seconds ago.
Cap and his boss, now in their own helicopter, fly over Portland. Cap says his exposure was minimal and the pretty science lady estimates he aged about 3 weeks from it. There isn’t time to distribute the antidote as individual shots, so they’re just going to dump it in the air over the city (and hope everyone who needs it gets the right dose, I guess). They’ve all aged “about 10 months.”
The helicopter circles over the city trailing red smoke of secret government chemicals and… Dammit. So that’s where the nonsensical and scientifically impossible rumors about “chemtrails” started. Curse you, Captain America!
Anyway, it works.
Cap goes back to the farm where the widow (as her son hoped) seems to be training to get back into horseback riding. (She previously “won a bag of ribbons” at shows.) Steve sits on his tiny artist’s stool and sketches her. He asks Pete if he’s going to get a pet to replace the dead lamb, but Pete says pets are for kids. Steve tells him that caring for another creature is an important adult responsibility. So he grabs a puppy in a duffel bag from the back of his van? I… no comment. There’s no sign of the cat from the first half of the movie. Pete protests. “I said I don’t need one!” Steve hands him the puppy anyway. An important responsibility and ongoing job for a kid who already serves as one of his mom’s main farmhands, dropped into his arms despite his protests. Well done, Steve. That’s preparing him for the modern workplace. Pete is immediately won over by puppy cuddles.
Pete then comes around to see the progress on Steve’s sketch. He stares at it in silence until Steve asks if that means he doesn’t like it. “I like it! Because it has that special look I told you about. How’d you do it?” (Pete’s reason for wanting his mom to get back in the saddle was that he’d noticed she got a “special look” on her face when she was riding.) Steve just sitting there, sketching a portrait of Pete’s mom with that “special look” on her face. You can insert your own riff here.
Steve says “I just paint what I see.” (Despite the fact that it’s a pencil sketch.) Mom, on horseback, smiles at the camera, and the movie ends. Roll credits.
Boy, Cap, maybe you should lay off the beans.