Movie Title: The A-Team (2010)
2010's A-Team isn't exactly an “A-movie.” And it isn't a “B-movie” either, not in quality or in grade. The budget was big ($110,000,000) and the fluff therefrom can be seen. The A-Team has something going for it, but it gets a C.
Joe Carnahan's A-Team is a grievously twitchy work, but it does what every 80s remake this side of the 21st century does—exploits the sensibilities of audiences with the heavy use of nostalgia. Some of us are nostalgia junkies. And consider that using precious memories to win points with a wider percentage of audiences is not a dumb marketing strategy. Consider why...
First, you have those who saw, knew, and loved the TV show growing up. They will unquestionably love the movie, being that they are the primary target audience. Second, you have the kids and everyone else too young to have seen the series. They will appreciate the movie because it is something new (to them) and has enough action to make you feverishly squint, which (for reasons I know not) is a thing in high demand today.
Third, you have that rather peculiar class of retro-loving teenyboppers who know a little something of the 80s and find regressing into previous generations a cool pass-time (Ten years ago, it was the 70s. Today, it is the 80s). They get to live in and appreciate the decade of square cars and senseless street punks without having been there. So it's a win-win-win for nearly everyone.
The only losers are those who love the 80s, but still have half a mind to loathe this grievous lack of on-screen creativity. Some of us love originality as much as we lust for nostalgia. Perhaps Commander Data will prove to be right when he declared on a certain episode of Star Trek The Next Generation that movies and TV as a form of entertainment will die out in the year 2047. We are, after all, running out of ideas...
...And so were the writers of this A-Team. The characters are fine re-creations of the originals, perhaps even better. Liam Neeson plays a superb Hannibal, with or without those cigars and repeating his catchphrase: “I love it when a plan comes together.” Sharlto “District 9” Copley as “Howlin' Mad Murdock” was more of a sell than the original guy, and his crazy antics are never overused like you would expect them to be. But like the Star Trek remake of 2009, the characters are the main-course. The absorbing action is like the salad before the meal; some eat it, some don't.
Like any good, action-focused film, the limits of believability are stretched. We get the standard erroneous bunk that gets fed into our entertainment, things that the writers ought to have known better than to use, like law enforcement agencies having to keep a caller on the phone for 30 seconds to trace a call. Ever tried prank-calling 911 as a kid? Some of us did. Don't try it!
There are high-end weapons in big supply, like bazookas, and they're everywhere. There are explosions and cargo storage containers crashing down with no one getting crushed, and the good guys appear in the nick of time. I'd say those plans come together a little too well. The team knows just where to put down cargo containers to block headshots from snipers. The broad, endless waves of machine gun fire never really seem to hit anybody. And of course, the bad guys give speeches when they should just be pulling the trigger.
But I liked it, having gone in ready to hate it. I was captivated by the fleeting scene changes, though I could have used a Tylenol ¾ of the way in. The movie captures every bit of the entrée ingenuity and confidence that you came to expect in the classic TV series, but with several extra servings of loud, shaky, and explosive.
The inexcusably rushed pace of the plot was, true enough, a setback. But by the time the story was contorted into a head-scratching hiccup of action, I was already hooked. Hello, everyone. My name is Joe Holman and I'm a nostalgia-holic.
Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action, violence, language, and smoking)
Director: Joe Carnahan
Summary: A group of Iraq War veterans look to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.
Starring: Liam Neeson "Hannibal," Bradley Cooper "Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck," Jessica Biel "Charisa Sosa," Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson "B.A. Baracus," Sharlto Copley "Murdock," Patrick Wilson "Lynch," Gerald McRaney "General Morrison," Henry Czerny "Director McCready"
Genre: Action / Adventure / Thriller