Thursday, 26 August 2010
The A Team
THE A TEAM (2010)
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Written by: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom & Skip Woods
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bloom & Jessica Biel
The A Team is a fun time. It really is. Based on the uber cheesy but always entertaining action show from the 80s, The A Team movie stays pretty much true to the fun times of the show albeit with edgier action, a pace that threatens to sizzle your eyeballs and, yes, CGI. Mercifully forgoing the camp route of TV big screen adaptations such as Starksy & Hutch, The A Team is hard edged action from the get go with enough silliness, a touch of comedy and a whole heap of absurdness to remind you that it's based on a TV show which featured pretty much all of the above.
Igniting barely once the the Twentieth Century Fox logo has left the screen, Joe Carnahan's film rockets along at hyper speed with an opening ten to fifteen minutes that crams in so much it's, well, just insane. We see through some outlandish situations and high octane action how the four soldiers of fortune came to be and once the title card has been and gone it's onto the mission that shows how The A Team came to be arrested, locked away and stripped of their rank. But barely six months later Hannibal, Face, BA and Murdoch are hatching an escape and a plan to get revenge on those who set them up and sent them away. From here on in it's " I ain't getting on no plane!", flying tanks and running down the side of buildings firing machine guns action.
Awesomely ludicrous it all is but it's so much action soaked fun. Any mention of "that wouldn't happen," or "that's not realistic" is a waste of time and completely missing the point. The TV show wasn't realistic, the movie isn't realistic, hell, most action movies aren't (and aren't supposed to be) realistic. What's wrong with having a little fun watching some dudes fly tanks and thwart the bad guys? For the most part the action is fluid and tight. Yeah, Carnahan can't quite get away from rapid fire editing which mares some of the action and the CGI is a little heavy come the later action scenes but there are many other reviewers out there who will have much more fun tearing all this apart: I'll let them spit venom about it. The action is adrenaline charged, firepower heavy and hard edged as well. People do get killed unlike in the TV show (sorry die-hard A Team purists!) but the updated take on the action, stunts and edgier slant brings the film into the modern action arena. There is a corking set-piece which takes place between two high rises before turning into a running gun battle and even the flying tank bit is a hoot.
What keeps the the film zipping along is the chemistry of the main cast. The four chosen to play the leads are all great and were obviously having a blast making this picture. They feel like a unit and a group of friends and all do justice to the original characters. The flick also benefits from some cool bad guys including a a very vain and funny Patrick Wilson and co-writer Brian Bloom who is just awesome as uber bad guy Pike. Should have given him even more screen time. Carnahan just manages to keep a lid on all the madness as at just under two hours he crams a lot in and tries his best to give Hannibal, Face, BA and Murdoch equal screen time. The only thing he could have done is maybe eased up on the frenetic pace somewhat. The film is super charged and that works well most of the time but a little more, and slower, downtime between the set pieces would have been nice for the four heroes to have a bit more banter. The scenes of the team being discharged and subsequently banged up could have been fleshed out a little more also with proceedings rushed in order to get to the next part of the mission. Likewise the trademark van could of had a bigger appearance.
For the most part this feels like an A Team film and is an action filled romp. It may suffer a bit from the pitfalls of modern filmmaking (rapid fire editing, subtly substituted for bombast and, yes, crappy CGI: though it ain't that bad!) but The A Team is a slick, funny, action ride that had this reviewer grinning. Plus, every director from now on should put Sharlto Copley in their films: dude is awesome!