The A-Team (2010)

*. The A-Team was an obvious big-screen project, having been a popular action-comedy TV series in the 1980s with strong name recognition. But in fact it roiled in development hell for years. As so often happens in such cases, the result was not a polished gem of a script but an unholy mess.
*. What makes this all the more depressing is that they wasted a good cast. Liam Neeson was settling nicely into his new role as a greying action hero and Bradley Cooper as Face is intelligent beefcake (I didn’t think he needed to be quite so buff, but I guess in our time a great face has to have a great body). They rolled the dice on Sharlto Copley as Murdock and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. Baracus but I thought they both performed very well. Jessica Biel is always easy to look at, even if she’s just being easy to look at. Patrick Wilson is good as the CIA weasel.
*. Unfortunately, despite (or because of) all that time in development they never managed to come up with a script. You know those action movies that seem like they have no story at all but are just an excuse to hang a bunch of action sequences on? You know that overused word “incoherent” for such movies? Well, I have to use it again here.
*. I think Kirk Honeycutt, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, sums it up well: “The film seems nearly writer-free. Absolutely no time gets wasted on story, character development or logic.” Basically the “story” revolves around the team stealing a set of plates for printing American currency back from some bad guys, but the plates are then stolen from them, which is something they get framed for, somehow, but they are then released from prison to steal the plates back (again) by one of the guys who I thought stole them in the first place. Whatever. There are gunfights and explosions and a tank that falls out of a plane. All presented by way of a lot of ho-hum CGI.
*. I don’t recall B.A. being against violence, or at least murder, in the series. Did they add that? And if so, why?
*. Not that his conversion to satyagraha lasts very long. Even before he takes care of Pike he blows up all the mooks on the deck of the freighter. From director Joe Carnahan’s DVD commentary: “People did not die in the A-Team television show, [but] they die in this one. Because the kids demand it.” I wonder. You don’t see many people being killed in the Marvel superhero movies, and that’s the closest analog to this I can think of. These aren’t movies for grown-ups.
*. There’s not much to say here. One thing that did impress me was how the entire film was shot in the Vancouver area. That Mexican desert was apparently Kamloops and Iraq was near Burnaby. Movie magic. It can do anything.
*. It’s neither funny nor thrilling. I guess if you’re young enough you might enjoy it without knowing the original series. If you do remember the show I don’t think you’ll feel betrayed, though you may be let down.
*. I liked the series well enough at the time, but nothing about it has lasted. I don’t think anything about this film will last either. As with any franchise a sequel was planned but the box office didn’t justify it. In a way that’s too bad, as it might have been interesting to see what they could have done with a better script. For whatever reason a lot of these movies made out of old TV shows bombed because of garbage scripts (I’m looking at Baywatch and CHIPS here). You’d think that would be the easiest thing to get right. Apparently not. Oh well.

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