“Overkill is Underrated”

I’ve definitely been on a cheesy action movie run lately. Last night’s viewing: The A-Team.

Hee hee hee.


1.) I have never seen the original A-Team, so I didn’t watch this one going, “Oh, this guy’s no Mr. T,” or whatever else some purists thought. Overall, I mostly liked the movie: it’s a relatively enjoyable, thoroughly ridiculous action film of little to no substance whatsoever. In fact, it’s pretty much just a boy version of Charlie’s Angels, isn’t it? Harmless guilty pleasure. I enjoyed myself.

2.) Although, honestly, I’m not sure if they showed us B.A.’s Army Ranger tattoo quite often enough. What was the final count? Five? With four of them being in the first ten minutes? Just in case the audience forgot which branch of the military and/or government they were supposed to be rooting for. Although, one thing’s for sure: it’s certainly not the CIA. Sometimes, the role of ‘Incompetent Assholes’ goes to small town law enforcement; other times, it goes to the FBI, but in The A-Team, the assholes of the day are surely the CIA. In a related note, I expect that the average CIA operative’s reaction to The A-Team went something like, “Go suck yourself, Joe Carnahan. I could kill you with my thumb.”

3.) Liam Neeson’s American accent may have been laughable, yes, but then again, did anyone really care? He was too much fun to watch to be bothered by an over-the-top accent that no one was expecting to buy, anyway.

4.) For those of you not familiar with the show or movie, Neeson plays Hannibal Smith, leader/planner/mentor . . . yes, another mentor, although, admittedly, Neeson’s much more badass here than in previous mentor gigs. Anyway, I’m sure everyone loved the cigar and all, but I was much more impressed with his ability to predict every single move that any person could possibly think of, not unlike God. It was a little like watching Sherlock Holmes again, or that bad guy from that one Fringe episode who killed innocent people by doing a shitload of probability theory in his head. Between Hannibal’s superhuman abilities and pretty much every action scene in this movie, it’d be kinda hard to pick the most ridiculous thing that happens in this film.

5.) Although that scene where Murdock flies the crew out of Mexico is pretty up there.

6.) Actually, let’s talk about Mexico for a minute, and Army Rangers, and the inescapable fact that Hannibal Smith, actually, is the craziest motherfucker on the whole team. Oh, you might be thinking it’s Murdock, since he’s actually a patient in an insane asylum when you first meet him, pretending to be a doctor and stitching a lightning bolt in B.A.’s arm before setting Face on fire, a little . . . yes, Murdock’s certainly kind of psychotic, and not even the kind of psychotic I was expecting from the trailers. (I was thinking a little more kooky and less certifuckingfiable.) That being said, AFTER pretending to be a doctor, stitching a lightning bolt in B.A.’s arm, and setting Face on fire, a little, Hannibal trusts Murdock to fly them all safely away because Murdock is an Army Ranger, and that is, and I fucking quote, good enough for him.

Hannibal . . . you may be able to plan like God, but your decision-making skills frighten me.

7.) Although, to be fair to dear Hannibal, he does have one of the best moments in the whole film: after nearly escaping literal cremation, half-barbecued Hannibal pops out of the oven, laughs at the terrified crematorium attendant, and says, “So, Satan walks into this bar . . .”

I admit, I laughed pretty hard at that.

8.) Actually, The A-Team has a lot of good lines, most of which happen in the second half of the film. If I had one issue with the movie, it was that Act One seemed to fall a little flat. The teaser section where you meet The A-Team is ridiculous but fine, as a means to introduce the fact that Hannibal’s a badass, Face is hot, Murdock is crazy, and B.A. doesn’t suffer no fools. But the set-up of all the other major players and the job that lands them in hot water . . . it’s kind of weak, all of it. There’s something off about that first scene between Jessica Biel and Bradley Cooper, and the introduction of Pike (Brian Bloom) as a smarmy villain for hire is exceptionally lazy.

However, Pike (along with CIA spook Lynch {Patrick Wilson}) suddenly become AWESOME in the second half of the movie . . . in fact, the whole movie gets so much better once the A-Team is out of prison, I think. Everything’s just so much fun, and I was voting for both of the good guys and the bad guys. It’s nice to have both heroes and villains who are enjoyable to watch.

9.) A few of the best lines:

Murdock: “If you look out the right hand side of the aircraft, you will notice that the right wing is on fire.”

Sosa: “They are the best, and they specialize in the ridiculous.”

Lynch: “Wow, that’s awesome! That looks exactly like Call of Duty, doesn’t it?”

Pike: “What are you doing? It’s a suppressor, counter clockwise. You’re holding a gun like that? You’ve held a gun like that before and you’re still here? That’s amazing. Jesus, hey, final request – don’t let this guy shoot me please.” (Actually, this whole scene just made me crack up.)

10.) Oh, and while we’re speaking of quotes—when Gandhi thought about his life’s work and the impact of his legacy, I’m sure that this is what he was really hoping for: “Oh, please, please, in however many years: let every asshole screenwriter known to man use my words to encapsulate the entire ethical dilemma of whether violence is ever acceptable or not in under a minute, before clearly ending on whichever quote best sums up the motto of his particular film. Please, this is what I hope my life’s work gets boiled down to. Bonus points if we land on the killing people is cool side!”

11.) Now, briefly stepping away from that (and The A-Team in general) to discuss another action flick that I like, The Losers–it’s not a perfect film, and one of its weaker elements is Jason Patric as white-suit sporting bad guy, Max. I always figured Max was sort of a hard villain to play because he’s clearly supposed to be a sort of smarmy, nasally bad guy, and while those guys can be clever, they’re often too annoying to really enjoy watching. Patric’s not awful in the role, but he’s not great, and he’s constantly showed up by his awesome, Canadian second banana, Wade (Holt McCallany). There’s just something missing in Patric’s performance. I didn’t quite know how to fix it, though, so I was willing to give him a free pass . . .

. . . but watching The A-Team, I was struck by just how good Patrick Wilson is at portraying a pretty similar character; Wilson makes the smarmy really work for him in this movie, and The Losers would have been a lot better off if it had cast him as their bad guy instead of Jason Patric.

Oh well. I’ll just have to focus on Chris Evans instead. Hardship.

12.) As far as the rest of casting goes—Bradley Cooper’s a lot of fun to watch as Face, and when they inevitably make a sequel, I’m hoping that he can somehow just do the whole two hour movie shirtless. Really, who would object? I wouldn’t object.

I’ve already said how much I enjoy Patrick Wilson, Liam Neeson, and Brian Bloom. Sharlto Copley is believable as a nutjob pilot, and he at least looks like he’s having a lot of fun. I’m not sure I ever really bought whatever crazy hillbilly accent he was selling, but to be fair, I would never have guessed Copley was South African if he hadn’t sounded so natural in his own accent for the few minutes when Murdock’s pretending to be someone else.

And as far as the ones everyone loves to hate: sorry, folks, but Jessica Biel is perfectly serviceable—I know it’s easy to give her a lot of shit for being the Pretty “Tough” Girl in the film (and I will certainly do that whenever I end up reviewing Blade 3) but she’s really adequate here for what she’s supposed to do, and I think there are worse actresses out there they could have picked. (I expect Blake Lively will be a good example, if she’s as bad in Green Lantern as the trailer makes her seem.)

Likewise, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson got a lot of knocks for this role—but, really, was Mr. T that good? Because Jackson worked fine for me. He didn’t pity any fools. I laughed where I was supposed to laugh. He had a mohawk. What else did you people want?

It may not have been poetry, guys, but The A-Team was pretty much what I expected it to be, and I mostly liked it. So, movie grade: solid B.

As far as moral of the story? Kill people, cause Gandhi said it was cool.

Also: America RULES!

5 thoughts on ““Overkill is Underrated”

  1. Murdock was totally my favorite character. Also, you forgot to mention the tank-flying scene which was one of the best scenes in the entire film. Otherwise, I agree 100% with your assessment. This is an awesome and hilariously fun action film.

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