I originally wanted to post this as my weekend roundup, but haven’t got around to finishing it. Anyway, last weekend was a busy one but I managed to watch two movies that couldn’t be more different from each other: the action-packed The A-Team and Rob Marshall’s musical NINE (review forthcoming). Well in a way they have something in common, neither of them are ‘great’ movies by any means, but you know what, I quite enjoyed both and they met my expectations to some degree.
I was expecting a bombastic, loud, popcorn blockbuster and I got exactly what I asked for, nothing more, nothing less. I went in to see the movie for pure nostalgia sake as I watched the TV show as a youngster and the trailer just looked so darn entertaining. Now, the trailer is still far better than the movie, as is often the case, but fortunately the movie captured the whimsical and jovial spirit of the TV show. Every time the theme song comes on, I instinctively start grinning ear to ear.
The A-Team is a nickname for Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA), which they used to be a part of, but these four guys are now on the run from the military for being accused of a war crime they didn’t commit. The movie is an origins story of sort, as it shows how Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith finds the other three to form his team of four bad-asses. Each of the story is pretty amusing, but my favorite part is when he found Murdock in the mental institution.
Which brings me to the excellent casting. Each actor did their best in the role and work well together, which is key to the whole ensemble. I do agree with Novroz’s review that UFC champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as B.A. is probably the weakest of the four, but then again the highly charismatic Mr. T really was a tough act to follow. But even so, he’s actually pretty good. It’s nice to see Liam Neeson having fun in the role of Hannibal, he takes it more than simply impersonating George Peppard with his cigar smoking smugness. I guess since his last actioner Taken, Neeson now adds ‘bonafide action star’ to his stellar resume.
Pretty boy Bradley Cooper fits the bill as the wise-cracking ladiesman Face, though he’s borderline afflicted with a Matthew McConaughey syndrome with his tendency to take his shirt off! I’ve talked about Quinton, now last but not least, Sharlto Copley‘s fantastic performance as the mischief maker Murdock. I initially frown that he chose this movie as his post District 9 role, but you know what, I’m glad he did. He’s the perfect comic relief and steals every scene he’s in. He’s proven to be quite a versatile actor and obviously has a knack for physical comedy.
Besides the cast, all the movie is about is action, action, and more action. From start to finish, the fast pace hardly ever let up and we’re served with one overblown, logic-defying sequence after another. Director Joe Carnahan never takes the time to explain anything, so the plot always takes a back seat over the explosions and gunfights. It’s kind of mind-numbing after a while, but to complain that there’s too much action here is like going to a buffet and grumbles there’s too much food. The ending is shamelessly set up for a sequel with Jon Hamm in an uncredited role. It leaves the audience wondering who’s this Lynch character, the fishy CIA agent initially played by Patrick Wilson. Oh, Jessica Biel also stars as the lone female character in the testosterone-heavy flick. I’ve never been impressed by her acting but she doesn’t have to do much here than to appear breathless opposite hunky Mr. Cooper.
In any case, despite its flaws and absurdity, it was fun to switch off Saturday afternoon and just enjoy the brainless thrill ride.