Movie review: The A-Team

Watching The A-Team made me wonder if my standards were too high, or if writing too many reviews has turned me into a grumpy old critic.

Because I thought the film was downright awful, while the sellout crowd I saw it with hooted and hollered, cheering gleefully during several scenes.

What to make of this disconnect?

Perhaps I saw the film with the Northern Virginia branch of The A-Team fan club?

Or maybe folks are that starved for decent action flicks that they will greedily lap up anything placed in front of them, even if it’s stale?

This is not an indictment of the TV show – I watched it, just like every other kid my age. I thought Joe Carnahan was a good choice to helm a feature film version, thinking he would provide some of the grit of “Narc” and the flash of “Smoking Aces.”

I was wrong.

“The A-Team” is one of the sloppiest big-budget films I’ve seen if years – from the abrupt cuts to the murky plotting to the incomprehensible action sequences, it all feel like this was thrown together without much care for the final product.

And I haven’t even gotten to the special effects, which appear to be lifted right out of 1986. I don’t understand how a movie this expensive could have such shitty effects compared to a tiny film like, say, “District 9,” which looked amazing.

Seriously, the shoddy effects took me completely out of the movie on several occasions, not that there’s that much to pay attention to here.

The movie opens with a rescue mission that also serves as an introduction to our fearsome foursome – Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), Lt. Faceman Peck (Bradley Cooper), Sgt. B.A. Baracus (Quentin Jackson) and Capt. Murdock (Sharlto Copley) – then flashes ahead eight years after the quartet has become the Army’s go-to group for the most dangerous covert operations.

When the proverbial last mission goes awry, the unit finds themselves court martialed and thrown in jail, wrongfully convicted of stealing some mint plates. But when a weaselly CIA agent (Patrick Wilson) promises immunity if the plates are recovered, Hannibal quickly breaks his cohorts out of max security prisons to get back in the game.

Yes, this is one of those movies where our protagonists can do anything, from flying a falling tank to creating complex miniatures of their missions. You don’t ever worry about whether the A-Team can pull it off because these are unstoppable caricatures instead of characters.

Hot on the trail of our disgraced heroes is Lt. Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel), a former lover of Faceman and an apparently tough-as-nails military officer who won’t stop until she gets her men. Now, I think Biel is a super-hottie, and she’s not the world’s worst actress, but in no way, shape or form is she right for this role. She’s WAY too young to be that decorated of a soldier AND she’s also too young for Cooper.

So what did I like about the movie? Well, Brian Bloom as the leader of a Blackwater-type group was a good No. 2 bad guy with some funny lines. And Wilson, an actor I normally don’t like, was the best thing about the whole damn production – he was appropriately slimy in an 80s villain way.

The soft box office for the film’s first week suggests that maybe I’m not crazy – perhaps audiences are a little more discerning than my experience showed – but it’s actually too bad because I think an A-Team franchise, if handled right, could have been a fun summer diversion every couple of years.

Now, I think all parties involved will forget this ever happened, and it will become just another blip in the failed adaptation Hall of Fame.

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~ by Elliott on June 12, 2010.

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