Monday, June 14, 2010

Movie Review: A-Team

Someone stole my weekend. I'm positive of it. I left it sitting right over here, I turned my head, and whammo, somehow it's friggin' Monday again. This sucks. I had been saving the weekend for a chance to sleep, relax, or generally not feel stretched like taffy that ain't so laffy. This is why you're going to have to give me a minute before I, you know, actually write anything original for you. With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Justin Senkbile's review of The A-Team.

Excess in Excess
Everything is big in The A-Team
Justin Senkbile

“Overkill is underrated,” or so says Colonel Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), the leader of an Army special ops group in The A-Team, the latest repackaged product in your local multiplex. It’s a nice line for a gruff, half-crazed maverick like Hannibal, but one could imagine it coming from the mouth of a Fox executive during the preproduction stage. After all, this thing is overflowing with just about everything: one-liners, air battles, plot twists and, of course, copious explosions. With a running time of nearly two hours, it has the distinction of being both mindless and mind-numbing, though not at all unentertaining.

The A-Team follows the adventures of a gang of adrenaline-junkie US Army Rangers who “specialize in the ridiculous.” That turns out to be an apt description as we watch Hannibal, Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) bring the most absurd “MacGyver”-esque missions to a successful conclusion. There’s also a boatload of plot involving a CIA agent and a treasonous General, but really it’s the same old story of explosions avenged with even bigger explosions.

As yet another repackaging of aging kitsch, in this case the much-loved 80’s TV series of the same name, The A-Team follows the ordinary rules of the remake. Its story details the origins of the team, before they became the soldiers of fortune featured in the series, and its ending leaves things open enough for a string of sequels, depending of course on what the box-office receipts look like.

What’s interesting is that this succession of pops, zips and bangs is moved along not so much by its plot but by its mixture of gaudy charm (from Cooper) and fermenting testosterone (via Neeson). Although they’re arguably the main stars of the film, those brief descriptions are really all you need to know about them. Jackson, filling the shoes of the iconic Mr. T, has more of a back seat role. He really has little to do with the film besides having a mohawk and getting a weak mini-redemption story that features not one but two quotes from Ghandi that are, in this context, cringe-inducing.

It’s a shame that Copley (from District 9 fame) got all the dumbest lines because he’s easily the most compelling actor here. As the one member of the team who’s assumed to be literally insane, Murdock is clearly the clown of the cast. And although Copley still finds some room to impress, he’s sadly misused. At least the guy is probably getting a good paycheck out of this.

In spite of all its boneheadedness, The A-Team’s audio-visual obesity does manage to entertain, if your eyes and ears are up to the challenge. If you loved the series, or if you’re partial to movies that run everything, at all times, at full speed (even when it doesn’t make sense to), then you’ll probably find a few things to enjoy. But no matter who you are, $9.00 is a steep price for a mildly amusing shoot-em-up.

Grade: C

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