June 11, 2010
Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper
Release Date: June 11, 2010
Fools Will Be Pitied
One thing’s for sure: there’s certainly no shortage of ridiculous action movies in Hollywood these days. From the recently released Prince of Persia to the upcoming Knight and Day, it seems that studios are taking the formula traditionally used to brew a summer blockbuster and lacing it with nitroglycerin. Instead of a single grand finale that serves as an action centerpiece to wow audiences, movies are now tying together one out-of-control sequence after the other. Joe Carnahan’s most recent film—The A-Team—is certainly no exception.
I suppose I should make it clear from the outset that I never watched the TV show. Because of this, I can’t really comment on whether or not this modern take on what I can only imagine was a hammy series is faithful to its source material. There’s a Mr. T replacement (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), complete with a mohawk and two knuckle tattoos which read “PITY” and “FOOL.” A quick aside: does he literally “pity fools”? Because, in my limited experience with this character, he seems to be consistently “punching fools” or “kicking fools,” but rarely “pitying” them. Anyway, Hannibal, the grizzled Army Ranger who’s always gnawing on a stogie, is here too—this time he’s played by Liam Neeson. There are two other guys named Face and Murdock, brought to life by Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley (of District 9 fame). One’s cocky and one’s crazy. There’s also a story, and it focuses on some stolen plates used to print American currency, a conspiracy that’s designed to setup our ragtag protagonists, and the resurgence of an old love interest. Along the way one major plot twist is thrown in our direction, and it’s probably a little bit smarter than you’d expect from a movie like The A-Team (but only a little).
All in all, I enjoyed this one. It doesn’t make any pretenses in terms of trying to come off as a serious political thriller, nor does it dumb itself down so much that it’s insulting/boring to watch. Like any of the previously mentioned films, you’re going to see this one because you want to witness completely absurd things unravel before your eyes (heck, even Captain—make that Lieutenant—Sosa, played by Jessica Biel, states flatly that “these guys specialize in the ridiculous”). Never has a truer statement been uttered. These fellas do things like attach themselves to speeding big-rigs with homemade magnets. They’re apparently also able to fly tanks. It’s all extraordinarily entertaining, and, oddly enough, many of these events don’t come off as the overly animated CGI orgies that we’d expect. Great care was taken to try and add at least a modicum of credibility to the action scenes—to try and make them at least mildly believable, as if they could occur within the physical universe we occupy. Notice the emphasis on “could.” We’re not supposed to believe that what we’re seeing is reality, of course, but—as is the case with the plot as a whole—it appears that Carnahan and company didn’t want to completely insult our intelligence. Notice the emphasis on “completely.”
The A-Team is funny, too. A wide variety of things from popular culture are referenced with a notable amount of wit, such as the Call of Duty video game series and Braveheart. The film also benefits from a hilariously self-aware villain named Lynch (Patrick Wilson), a guy who’s constantly rattling off glib observations about the dire situations his enemies find themselves in.
Even though there’s a surprising amount to praise, there are some completely unnecessary subplots that hamper the energy of the film. I’m guessing these were worked in for the sake of having at least some semblance of character development, but what does having B.A. temporarily decide to follow the teachings of Gandhi, for example, add to anything when he just as easily turns back to his take-no-prisoners mindset after a two second pep-talk from Hannibal? And, really, does the floundering love story between Face and Captain…er, Lieutenant…Sosa add anything at all to a movie that should only be about explosions, guns, and more explosions? This doesn’t even take into account the fact that some of the lovey-dovey dialogue between these two is about as wooden as what Padme and Anakin whisper to one another in Attack of the Clones.
But this can be forgiven. The A-Team is a solid action flick with a respectable plot that doesn’t give in to too many cliches. Go figure.
out of 5
Check out a trailer for The A-Team: