Director: Joe Carnahan.
Cast: Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper.
I have a big problem with this movie. I have a big, big, massively big problem with this movie. I watched it once, around 4 weeks ago from the date of this post, and it still haunts me. It haunts me everywhere I go, anywhere I look and with anything else I play or watch (unless it’s something directed by Christopher Nolan, in those cases I am fine). I feel if I don’t review this piece of shit of a movie and make justice to my soul I will never be at peace with myself, so I better do amends and jump right into it.
First of all I will get out of the way the things I like the most and I am happy to report those will fit neatly into one paragraph, that’s the level of crappiness we are dealing with here. What I liked the most about this movie is Sharlto Copley as “Mad Dog” Murdock and Quinton Jackson as BA. The first because he is a really good actor who has found a way to act and move into a film, and the second one because, despite his inexperience with movies, is good enough to make you forget about Mr. T for about two hours. These two actors deserve a better movie than this, they deserve a better screenplay than this, and they deserve a lot more respect, and here’s why.
The movie starts pretty well, which hurts me because you see all the potential this could have been to be a kickass “group of men against impossible odds” movie. We see Liam Neeson as Hannibal meeting up with BA, who just recovered the trademark A-Team van, as they go to save “Faceman” from being burned into a pile of tires. They end up in a hospital where they escape with the help of pilot “Mad Dog” Murdock. They hijack a helicopter and in the time span of two minutes Murdock destroys the van and gives BA a permanent fear of flying. That was such a good start! It’s all like the original show, you could take it, cut it, and put it in a DVD of the final season of the original series promising it to be a reboot. It was good. Each character had the same protagonism, nobody was left aside, and the jokes, dialogues and action were pretty well done.
But then I realized that was only 15 minutes in. There was one hour and forty-five minutes of movie left to watch.
What follows is an analysis of the plot, so if you want you can skip it and jump right into the things that suck. Ten years pass and we are told that this group of four guys has worked together everywhere and in very war doing impossible tasks. They are like Mission Impossible Force from the M:I movies, except they are all nuts. We are told that Faceman has a love relationship with Jessica Biel’s character, who’s so bland I forgot her name. Then they are tasked with retrieving a shipment of weapons and money by their Army General Friend, who’s very close to Hannibal. They retrieve the shipment only to have it blown up along with their Army General Friend. For some reason they are accused of murder, because there is this other group of mercenaries working for the Army lead by Chief Douchebag Pike, who’s paid and lead by King Douchebag Lynch (but of course you know nothing about this, despite we established from the start that Lynch is fucking evil).
We are still developing the plot, move onto the next paragraph to read what sucks about this piece of shit. So the A-Team is divided and each member is set in different prisons. Lynch shows up to Hannibal, gives him some evidence and a way to get out of jail facking his own death. After a series of breakings they gather up the entire A-Team, breakings that involve catching Faceman into a sunbathing cabin, taking BA away from…I forgot and this is because of how they take out Murdock from the mental asylum he is in Germany. How do they take him out you wonder? That’s for later, we have to escape from the army! So they sneak into an airplane loaded with tanks as they fly away from Germany, when all of a sudden the US Army starts shooting at them! Oh wow! No need to ask for authorization on non-US flight space, they can fire their guns anywhere they want because SHUT UP! They take down the airplane killing God knows how many people in the process as they jump inside a tank and into a lake. How does that work? Later! We have a building to assault! So they go into Washington DC to capture the apparent killer of their Army General Friend, only to discover, GASP, that Lynch and Pike were working together all this time! I would slap myself in the face, but I will trust you guys will just do it for me. They even set it up like a legitimate surprise, which is what pisses me off the most.
Nope, not this paragraph, the next one. So on the last third act of the movie we discover that their Army General Friend was actually alive, working all this time with Pike and Lynch, and that they have been set up for booddily-bobbily-boo. So Lynch orders an attack over the place where they are and kill the Army General Friend in the process, moment Hannibal takes to set up a new plan and make it work! Oh wait, no, it’s Faceman who sets up the plan! That’s right, because he always had the best plans in the show, am I right? So for a series of reasons they end up in the docks, they trick Lynch into confessing all the treacheries he has made by faking the Army General Friend is still alive, they kill Pike in a non-satisfying way, and the entire A-Team is put in jail because of PLOT HOLES! But not before Hannibal takes out a key from his mouth and breaks them from the van. Oh wait, nope, wrong again, it’s Faceman who saves them! Movie’s over, no refunds.
Now, the things that suck about this movie are…way too many, but I will try to encapsulate them as better as I can.
First of all, the star of the show is not one member of the Team, is the entire Team. It’s called “The A-Team” not “The F-Team” (“F” is either for “Faceman” or “Fuck this”). And even if the show never established a clear protagonist, from the very beginning we are told that Hannibal is the one leading them. In this movie, right after those fifteen starting minutes, the focus is set on Faceman and his love relationship with Jessica Biel. They put Biel in here as a sort of outside informant for the Team, but it never passes over that aspect, she is in this movie because Faceman, somehow, needed a love interest. Faceman had a new girlfriend every episode, he was the Casanova of the Team, the heart-breaker. This doesn’t work, and we are forced to endure endless scenes where Faceman and Biel argue and forcefully try to have chemistry all the time. From the very start in the desert to the idiotic…gagh, so many fucking scenes of these two together, and there’s no need for that! You cut those off the movie doesn’t feel their absence and it will be 50 minutes shorter!!! Really bad move right there, you can’t focus the attention all the time on Faceman. And don’t tell me that this is because Liam Neeson was not cut to do action scenes and kick ass because I will fucking murder you. Have you seen “Taken”? Liam Neeson is the ultimate badass in that film, he is awesome killing dudes and torturing assholes, giving us a satisfying ride of a film, and short as well. This feels padded and in need of somebody to come here and tell the writer: “Don’t focus on one guy, IT’S A FUCKING TEAM! BALANCE IT!!!”
I wish this movie’s problems would end here, but they don’t. This movie has a massive problem with its character development. The main characters, The A-Team, they are alright, they are not totally three-dimensional but they seem to have some resemblance of humanity (this is mostly because BA and Murdock are played pretty good) and even Bradley Cooper (whom I don’t blame for the excess of Faceman in this film) does everything he can with what they gave to him. We can say that, in the very least, the protagonists are human. The ones who are not human though are every-fucking-body else, and I want to make emphasis on this. First of I can’t remember anything from Biel, aside from the remains of a performance blander than a cookie in a sea of milk. The Army Friend General guy, who is actually named Russell Morrison, has nothing to him except that he is friend of Hannibal and that he regrets joining the bad guys. The authorities are portrayed as a bunch of unfair, illegitimate gun-totting, bullshit-spewing jerks that have no will nor mind of their own. But what kills me, the characters that make me want to murder somebody, are Pike and Lynch. I need a paragraph to talk about these two, because wow!
Pike and Lynch are basically the Lauren and Hardy of bad movie villains, and I mean bad. They are these moustache-twirling, goatee-stretching, maniacally-cackling, take-over-the-world-of-course-but-unfunny, assholes-because-shut-up, bland, stupid, retarded, unjustified, shameful, vomiting, repulsive, mind-numbing, atrocious, shades of resemblance of copies of clones of caricatures of cardboard cut-outs of cartoons of sketches of doodles of really bad, lowly bad movie villains you could ever imagine. They are so over the top yet so watered down that it’s impossible to find it funny. And I know you will say to me “But the Expendables had cartoony villains, but Taken has cartoony villains too” and I will reply “Yeah, but they didn’t rub them on your fucking nose every five minutes, didn’t you? Nor they did sub-cultural references all the time, right?” These two guys, either Pike or Lynch, every time they throw a punch, every time they shoot, or every time they say something “funny” they go “Whoo!” like they are the Rick “The Nature Boy” Flare. Every. Fucking. Time. They do this. It’s fucking terrible. Why? Why do they do that!? Why do they find necessary to go: *PUNCH* “Whoo! That really hurt, did it? Come on sweet buns, I will kick your ass, WHOO!” all the fucking time! By the end of the movie I wanted to take al their “Whoos” and shove them up their asses!!! And when they are not saying “Whoo” they are referencing stuff. Lynch is guilty of this, mostly. “Hey, why don’t you check his Twitter? That surely is a source of information” or “Wow, look a this bombing I just realized, it looks like Call of Duty, doesn’t it?” I was shaking my head, literally shaking my head at the lines of this guy, impressed and terrified at discovering how much can you strip from a human being until there’s absolutely no trace of humanity left in him. It’s terrifying. We should not be afraid of CGI characters substituting actors, we should be afraid of this character development hitting more movies.
But well, many times many movies have been saved from eternal damnation because of the action set pieces. Say what you want about “X-Men 3”, “Spiderman 3” or even The Matrix Sequels, the action set pieces in those films were jaw-droopingly brilliant. So how does The A-Team hold up? Terribly so, and I have no idea where to start. First of, we don’t have any case of shaky-cam, the action is stable and you can see what’s going on…or at least you could if the action set pieces were filmed correctly! There are four major action scenes in the movie. Two of them take place at night in pitch black darkness. One of them takes place between two sky-scrappers and lots of smoke. The last one is the flying tank scene. So here is how it surely was supposed to play. From the start we are told that these guys are, like I mentioned, the roughed version of the Ethan Hunt Team, so every mission they do is like a Mission Impossible. Already bullcrap, because the original set up of the A-Team is that they could fake any kind of situation in order to buy time to the proper authorities to stop the villains, but whatever we will play it your way movie.
The first action scene involves the Team recovering this money and this plaques, and it all happens in the pitch-black streets of Iraq. I barely saw what was going on, and I paid attention! I was lost within 5 seconds of the scene, mostly because it was edited with how they were planning it. So, in movie logic, the action scene happened at the same time as the scene that establishes the action scene. Busy? You have no idea.
The second action scene has the Team on board of a Tank, that’s flying/falling/floating as two planes try to take them down. They lose their parachutes so they are forced to use the tank’s cannon to propel themselves over a lake where they fall unscathed and safe. It may sound awesome, but it’s impossible to ignore all the problems this scene falls into. And I am not talking about flying a tank with its cannon! Where the hell do they get so much ammunition? Don’t tanks have like 4 or 5 rounds? These guys shoot like 10! Why are the airplanes still shooting at them? They are AI controller planes programmed to attack other flying objects, a Tank falling with parachutes is not flying, IT’S FUCKING FALLING! Why don’t they stop the airplanes then? Doesn’t the army want to keep them alive to put them in jail? I don’t know guys, I am lost, can we move onto the next scene?
The third action scene has the Team recovering their General Army Friend from a CIA building. It happens during the daylight but it involves gas grenades and some wishy-washy car driving stunts that accomplish zero development. Plus we see BA team up against Pike, and what does BA do? He lets Pike kick his ass! Yeah, Pike kicks BA’s ass as he “Whoo’s” the entire fight. Why doesn’t BA counter-attack? Because he took off his Mohawk and made an oath not to kill anybody. Keep that in mind for the next scene.
The fourth and last action scene happens in the docks, where the Team prepares an ambush to make Lynch confess his crimes to the world. Sadly the operation goes half-tits up because Pike throws a rocket to the ship and blows up a bunch of containers the Team was planning on using. So the Team is split up, Faceman ends up fighting against Pike. For some reason Pike shots him or something, he ends up falling on the ground, when suddenly BA shows up, grabs Pike and plummets his head on the floor, killing him. Then we see he has the Mohawk back… I know, I had the same expression when I saw it. When did he change his mind and decided that it was fun to kill people? I don’t know. The scene ends with Lynch facing Hannibal and Murdock, who is posing as General Morrison, something they use to make Lynch confess he was behind all this all along.
If my explanation of the action scenes seemed devoid of interest and soul it’s because they are like that in the movie. Never you feel involved in the action or caring for these characters because you know that they are going to survive at the end of the film, no matter how bad things go!
So if this action movie sucks in screenplay writing, directing, character development, plot development, action scenes, especial effects, music, dialogues, writing and set up what’s left of it to be saved? Actually nothing except from Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson, but that’s like 2 good things out of a basket of 500 bad things. There’s not enough for this movie to be even worth watching or enduring. And before saying anything, I am not a prude. I am not a puritan of movies who tosses everything. One of my favorite movies of all time is “Twister”, and I will defend “AVATAR” to the day of the final judgment. I love “The Expendables” and many, many fucking people had brought up both movies saying they are as dumb. There’s a difference between being dumb and being unlikeable. “The Expendables” is a dumb action movie, but it’s impossible not to like and love a movie that mixes Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture (just to name a few), and that wields a really simplistic plot about redemption. I like “Clash of the Titans” despite it being a really stupid movie that is saved thanks to some creative action scenes and Sam Worthington. “The A-Team” has nothing like that. It never feels likeable, and it never feels entertaining. It feels like somebody taking a nail gun to your testicles, and knowing that it will last just 5 seconds instead of 2 hours I would rather go for the testicular trauma option.