Thursday, 22 July 2010

The A-Team Review

During one of the central action set-pieces in the movie update of 80’s action TV show The A-Team, there is a scenario in which, through an increasingly ridiculous chain of events, a tank complete with parachutes crashes through the sky towards Earth, machine guns rattling and rocket launcher booming as they fire against an enemy plane.
“Are they trying to shoot down the other drone?”, asks one character.
“No, they’re trying to fly that tank”, comes the reply.

If you think that sounds intensely silly, then you would most probably be right. If you think that sounds rubbish, then you’re probably better off leaving The A-Team unwatched and going and seeing Inception again.

While the characters, the theme tune and the catch-phrases from the A-Team are all undoubtedly iconic, I must confess that I am too young to remember the original show myself, and so for this review I am forced to focus mainly upon the film itself.

From the offset, the tone and aim of the A-Team is made very clear. It is here to entertain you, make you grin, laugh, and wonder if it will get any more outlandish. As Bradley Cooper’s Faceman says to his leader,
“This is beyond nuts, boss!”
“It gets better”, responds Liam Neeson’s Hannibal.

The camaraderie and snappy back-and-forth remarks between the characters is both fun and witty, each personality played well and knowingly by the cast.

When it comes to the action though, which is suitably over the top, there is much less of a tongue-in-cheek vibe. This is a legitimate action film, and is often genuinely exciting, just set in a world where nothing is seen as being ‘too ridiculous’.

The script retains the character identities of the original team, such as B.A’s fear of flying, Face’s womanising ways and Hannibal’s pride of his men.

Sharlto Copley in particular, who was fantastic in last summer’s brilliant sci-fi District 9, is great fun as Howlin’ Mad Murdock. Quinton Jackson’s B.A retains his catchphrases and character traits, but sadly isn’t given much to do or much time to develop, but Bradley Cooper is obviously having a ball and Neeson admirably enters into the spirit of the whole thing.

While it’s all thoroughly enjoyable and ridiculous, the movie isn’t without its problems. For such a simple film, the plot is needlessly convoluted, and it can be hard to keep up with who is betraying who. These betrayals are never big twists, begging the question as to why they’re there at all. The A-Team is at its most enjoyable in its opening hour, when it’s at its most straight-forward, particularly in a great pre-credits sequence.

Another problem is the CGI. Special effects are ever-improving, with most of Avatar being almost photo-realistic, but lots of its usage in the A-Team is obvious and sometimes takes you out of the moment when you should be just sitting and enjoying the carnage. It also means that at times there’s little tension. If the audience doesn’t believe that actions onscreen are actually happening, its easy to find yourself thinking that the characters are never really in any danger.

However, this shouldn’t stop people from going to see it. The A-Team is ridiculous, over the top, but surprisingly enjoyable, and it makes absolutely no apologies for that. At its most fun, it’s hard to argue as Hannibal claims that “overkill is under-rated”. With a disengaged brain, its very entertaining. But anyone going expecting substance? I pity the fool.

Entertainment Value: 3.5/5
Genre Value: 3.5/5
Style: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

1 comment:

Toby said...

Nice write up, always saw this film being a pop corn film rather than the big action thriller of the year. just something nice to sit back and watch, and not to take to seriously.