Friday, February 11, 2011

The A-Team

Let's be honest...there was never a plan A, either.

My recollection of The A-Team television show is pretty vague, at best.  Knowing my parents, we probably didn't watch it, just because it was "beyond stupid."  I lost yet another valuable chapter of my childhood education and wasted it on reading using my imagination.  When will parents learn the error of their ways?  As I've aged, I have encountered a few random viewings of the television show, and's pretty rigoddamdiculous.  When this movie was announced, I was a little excited, because I do enjoy the occasional stupid action movie.  But then I saw the movie trailer.

Did that just show them carrying on a dogfight from a parachuting tank?  That is beyond ridiculous.  It's worse than stupid.  This is Ernest Goes to Rob Schneider's House Dumb: The Movie.  I didn't think I could bear to watch anything that stupid, and that is saying something, considering what I have reviewed.  But of course I couldn't stay away for long --- it looks so promising fun stupid!

The beginning of this movie is basically how the band comes together in the first place.  On a mission to a corrupt Mexican general, Hannibal (Liam Neeson) and Face (Bradley Cooper) team up with a random mohawked black dude, B.A. (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson), and a crazy pilot, Murdock (Sharlto Copely, from District 9), to escape the mean general and blow him to Hell.  Why did their leader, Hannibal, choose these two strangers?  Because they were US Rangers, dammit!  "Eight years and eighty successful missions later," the group is known as a talented, if eccentric, group that specializes in impossible covert operations.  When CIA Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) tells Hannibal about some key counterfeiting plates that are making their way out of Iraq, Hannibal asks his friend, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney) for the go-ahead, and he gets a reluctant okay for an off-the-books mission.  Meanwhile, Captain Sosa (Jessica Biel) of the Department of Defense, wants the A-Team to butt out wants to do it?  I don't know.  Oh, and there are some private security guys (obviously, a Blackwater analogue) there, too, lead by Pike (Brian Bloom), who is a meanie jerk-face.  The A-Team pulls off the job, but right before they can celebrate, General Morrison, the counterfeit plates, and a billion dollars in counterfeit money are blown up.  The Team has been framed!  They are all arrested and shipped to separate maximum security prisons and sentenced to ten years and a dishonorable discharge from the military.  How will they ever clear their names?  Well, according to Hannibal, "Give me a minute, I'm good. Give me an hour, I'm great. Give me six months, I'm unbeatable."  It is now six months after The A-Team was imprisoned.  It's time to be unbeatable and undoubtedly unbelievable.

There is no denying that this is a stupid movie.  If you need proof, B.A. has "Pity" and "Fool" tattooed on his knuckles.  If you want more proof, Murdock seasons his steak with antifreeze.  If you really, really, really need more proof, this movie has a scene where they play the shell game --- with a crane.  If you're okay with that, then you probably won't have any problems with this film.  If any of those examples gave you a nosebleed, just pinch your nose and sit this one out.

The acting in The A-Team is actually pretty enjoyable.  Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is still more of a MMA fighter than an actor, but aside from him, the cast is pretty solid.  Liam Neeson is more talented than the script shows, but he played up to the goofiness well.  I think it's pretty funny that he dyed his hair to look like Hannibal from the TV show, but when he disguises himself, he dyes his hair to look like Liam Neeson.  This is the first big role that Bradley Cooper signed on for after the surprise success of The Hangover.  I haven't really liked him much so far, but he was occasionally decent as Face.  I also enjoyed Sharlto Copely as the resident crazy character.  He wasn't fantastic, but he was certainly good enough for a movie like this.  I would like to point out that I am grading on a curve for these actors because of how stupid the movie is; their performances would have been awful in a more serious or comedic movie, but they're just about right for this mess.  The rest of the supporting cast was just there to be stooges that the A-Team makes look stupid, so I'm going to give Jessica Biel's per-faux-mence and Patrick Wilson's Josh Lucas impression free passes. 

This film was directed by Joe Carnahan, who you might recognize from his work on Smokin' AcesThe A-Team isn't as absolutely random as that movie, but his quick camera cuts are still recognizable.  He captured things going boom pretty well and I thought the action scenes made as much sense as they did on the TV show.  I wouldn't say he did a good job, but it could have been much worse.

That actually sums up my feelings about this movie.  It could have been much worse.  I've heard people defend The A-Team by saying that it was true to the show, but that's the wrong stance to take.  The movie adaptation of any television show should always be better than a typical episode.  Yes, the explosions were bigger this time, and the automatic weapons managed to hit things that weren't just the tires of vehicles.  But the plot was bad, even by television standards.  I was surprised that the plot actually sets up the movie as a prequel of sorts to the show; this is the story of how these men became mercenaries, instead of them helping the helpless.  This is a dumb action movie that was decently fun.  It's better than I expected, but not as much fun as I had hoped.  Is it actually good?  Well, there are lots of explosions, lots of catch phrases, and more than enough action scenes.  If stupid fun doesn't bother you, then The A-Team should get (wait for it...) a C+.  I'd give it an A, but it's way too crappy for that.


  1. I still say you need to watch Alias. Aside from it being an awesome show, it was my first introduction to Bradley Cooper and I still think my favorite role that he's done. Mostly because he's played a lot of assholes since then.

  2. Why is Liam Neeson an action star all of a sudden? Why is Liam Neeson in movies at all? I hate that guy.

    I have avoided this one. It just looks uneverythingable. I must say, I am surprised by the rating.

  3. @ Janine: I am well acquainted with Alias, thanks to Tricia, and stand by my general dislike of him.

    @nobulljive: I've got nothing against Neeson; my favorite part of his was when he played a redneck brother to Swayze.

    As for the rating, I did spend a lot of time thinking that one over. It basically came down to this: the movie knows what it is (stupid action movie), and does a decent job at that. It's not unintentionally funny, so no Lefty Gold. It's not ridiculously awesome. It's okay for what it is, and better than the unwatchable mess I expected.