Jul 3, 2010

A-Team = A-minus

I just had a very enjoyable time seeing The A-Team by myself at the theater. Before I had kids I thought of going to the movies alone as a really sad thing to do. It was bliss to sit alone in the dark and watch a movie with the sound blasting. Once or twice I caught myself thinking, "I better turn this down. It'll wake the kids."

I really wanted to see this movie when I realized Murdoc is played by Sharlto Copley. I love Sharlto Copley (District 9 was so awesome, and I don't think I can say much more than that), and he didn't disappoint. None of the actors were disappointing. Even Jessica Biel lived up to my expectations of her (see below).

There were some good gags, and the actors really pulled them off. The chemistry between the characters was good. The story was better developed than those of most recent action movies. I naturally gravitate towards stories in which a close-knit group of friends fight injustice together and grow closer to one another in the process. That was a major theme throughout the movie, as was having a "plan." The word "plan" was uttered many times by multiple characters. And what Hollywood blockbuster would be complete without a slight whiff of that oh so seductive theme: love conquers all. Early in the film, Face is chastised by his mentor Hannibal for messing up the plan because of a woman. In the end, Face orchestrates a plan for defeating the bad guys and clearing their names. The crux of the plan rests on getting his old sweetheart on board. So, for Face, following his heart can be a good plan,  but Hannibal is more of a thinking planner. They balance each other well, in that regard.

I enjoy action movies in general, especially light-hearted ones in which I can watch with relative certainty that none of the characters I like will die, even though there are bullets flying and tanks falling from the sky (with the heroes trapped inside). I guess it just has to be done right. There are certainly bad movies which are bad because it feels like someone should die but they haven't. The tone of this movie was just right. It made me expect my heroes to get all banged  up but not killed. ( I have yet to get over the betrayal I felt when Leonardo DiCaprio froze to death in Titanic because there just wasn't enough room on the wardrobe door for his tiny frame to get up there with Kate Winslet).

Bad Stuff:
Some lines were cheesy. Some of the action was over-the-top, but I guess that is sort off the point. I had a really hard time understanding how Jessica Biel was "responsible" for the stolen property. They had to make her "involved" so they made up an implausible reason for her to be. That's all I can say without giving stuff away.

The action scenes were shot very close-up (think "Bourne" movies). There was some ridiculous CGI involving a tank parachuting out of a burning plane, Face shooting the tank's cannon at Drones who are trying to shoot the tank.

And let's not forget the worst line of the movie, "These guys specialize in the ridiculous," delivered by one of my least favorite actresses, Jessica Biel. Were it not for her unfortunate presence in this movie, I might have given it a plus, instead of a minus. Every other military person in this movie wears army clothes, but somehow she is always in knee-high boots and a leather trench coat.

The parts that were supposed to be big shocking moments of revelation were obvious to me about twenty minutes ahead of their "reveal moment." That's ok though; they were still pretty cool.

The worst part:
Hannibal escapes from prison by smoking a Cuban cigar laced with some sort of make-you-seem-dead compound. I am so done with the not-really-dead routine. This is freakin' Hannibal, who specializes in the ridiculous, who can get out of any pickle; and I want to see him escape from prison using something cooler than the Romeo and Juliet fake-dead poison. That is so 1600s. Here's a fun Jessica Biel connection. Know which movie featured Jessica Biel and someone not really being dead? That's right, the suckfest that was The Illusionist. Is there seriously any movie-goer alive who doesn't see the fake-dead gag coming?

Give me a few days,  when the thrill of going to the theater wears off, and I may be a little more judgmental. Or I may decide that I really am rooting for the franchise that was set up just before the credits, borrowing the tagline from the old show, "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team."


  1. I loved this movie. Explosions, explosions, Bradley Cooper's chest, more explosions. What's not to love?

  2. Thanks for reading my review!! It's good to have you. I think it is hilarious that Ebert panned this movie. Apparently the only part he liked was the only part I did not like (flying the tank). Somehow, he thinks SALT is the greatest thing ever. We'll see.

  3. Only commenting now, because the movie was only released in South Africa three days ago. I loved this movie, and it's all encapsulated by this sentence: "I naturally gravitate towards stories in which a close-knit group of friends fight injustice together and grow closer to one another in the process."

    Yes, there were several illogical moments scattered through the movie, and the melée scenes could have been done better. I also could have done with the completely stereotypical bad-CIA-guy nonsense (especially that pointless misogynist office scene).

    Still, this movie is one for my personal collection, just so that I enjoy the interaction between the team, particularly B.A. and Murdoch.

  4. Totally agree. The office scene to which you referred was completely over the top.


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