Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Review: The A Team

I didn't grow up with the original A Team on TV, but I've come to understand through various research that this movie captures the direct spirit of the series, and in that respect, it wins big. At least, because in this day in age, so many people get it wrong when they re-hash some old stuff. The focus of the original's and it's intentions are lost. But not here apparently, for better or for worse. Guess what, for better....

But wait! There's more!

The Alpha team consists of:
  • Liam Neeson as Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith
  • Bradley Cooper as Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck
  • Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as Sergeant B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracus
  • Sharlto Copley as Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock
And they all made laugh, and laugh, and then they did a lot of cool shit in between. Finding a brotherhood with a cast that's really supposed to have it, isn't always easy, even with high grade actors involved. I really bought. The film opens with Hannibal getting the shit beat out of him in a dirty warehouse by corrupt Mexican military, with his only other team member, Faceman, captured. Capture for sleeping with the renegade General Tuco's wife. The man they are after. The next ten to fifteen minutes or so consist of a more interesting way to get them out of Mexico, and along the way, the two of them become four, meeting B.A. and Murdock along the way. (Murdock being the man who nearly steals the film.Copley has found new extensive roots here as a comedy artist.)

The brother (or more like sister, apparently) to this movie was obviously The Losers. Which I still haven't seen, but have high hopes for considering one or two actors involved with it I happen to particularly appreciate. I read one or two flattering reviews for it, the rest, have been comparisons to A Team, in a most unflattering way. I'm not here to say which is better, I have a feeling I might appreciate this more, in it's ability to abandon a gritty take, and keep the 80's originality alive within it's celluloid and then turn around and keep it uniquely fresh. Plus, it's just so damn funny. Not smart funny, not Apatow funny, but, hokey. Kookey. 
Murdock (Copley) was coming out of left field with just about... oh, everything that he to say. With Copley's natural swag and conviction, you really believe that this is the way the man is, but he also understands how goofy he is in the process, and does it anyway just for fun with his buddies. (I do to, it's great to see them all go, "WTF man?") How 'bout Rampage Jackson, coming atcha with some ninja acting chops huh? Say he was bad. Just didn't do it at all. I'm waiting... Say he won't be in something else soon enough. Every time he called someone a fool I giggled or smiled. Neeson was as cool you think he'd be, in the role of the leader, smoking his cigars and spouting out some lines with charisma. Cooper, is well, Cooper, suave and confidant, cracking jokes and being flirty with his lines, his character, and everything he encounters, interestingly enough, or maybe not. Maybe this is the dude from the The Hangover with a gun in his hand? 

Either way, this movie is about it's characters, with action merely serving as a clothesline for the characters to do new things with. I really think that. Real characters. Not stock douches. That's why this movie did it for me. Sue me.

The Rog, doesn't agree with me at all:
"The A-Team is an incomprehensible mess with the 1980s TV show embedded inside."
That sucks, but he's also right. The script and it's specifics are not really all that important, and at times try too hard to throw things in that look like they are supposed to matter, or be huge for the characters, but that's all they do. "Look', like they matter, they don't though. I'm not even sure why a few things that exist in this, exists at all. The silly storyline of B.A. Baracus, finding peace and solitude inside his cell, and having to come to terms with killing and using a gun again. Or the hastily thrown in unrequited love between "Faceman" and Jessica Biel's character, Department of Defense Captain Sosa. Or why did B.A. tear off on those dudes who were fixing his van? Before I realized it, he was beating everyone's ass. Aw, who cares, it was cool to see anyway. (That's the secret to the movie, just watch and enjoy and you'll be handsomely rewarded) I really stopped caring about the actual plot about half way in, realizing I was nearly lost, and just enjoyed where the four of those guys were taking me. Speaking of Biel, she did a good job, not throwing too much authority into it, careful not to step into the realm of Witherspoon over-acting intensity. Patrick Wilson, showing some new skin with a turn as a sniveling little fuck C.I.A. agent. He definitely enjoyed himself as a villain with snarky and quirky things to say. He's worth the money he's paid. I enjoyed the parallel to the private security firm, Blackwater, in the movie. Wilson's character was working with a PMC called Black Forest. Much like their real life counter-part (Blackwater), Black Forest holds itself in a "zero accountability" world. Nothing they do is exactly on the books, they have way too much room to breath.

So to bringing this to a close, I give it a 3 oua 4. Easy. 3; for Copley and his 3D buddies, Caranhan's signature "break neck' style of shooting everything and making it sorta hilarious and cool at the same time, and well, just the whole Team themselves. They were awesome, with a capital A. There is no plan B here. Bravo. 
(And yes, Cooper and Copley rode up to the premier at Grauman's Chinese Theater in L.A. in a real U.S. Army tank.)

 Munki out.

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