Review — The A-Team

Posted: August 5, 2010 in Danny Moltrasi, Film, Reviews
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[Reviewed by: Danny Moltrasi]

The A-Team is a film based on the cult 80s T.V series, and plays up exactly to its ultra-explosion and gunfire reputation, only multiplied on the big screen. It does that, and it does it a lot, but there are still a number of issues that I have with the film, and its overall message. Purely as a film, I guess it does what it says on the tin, and anyone who comes in wanting big explosions, flying tanks and lots of big set-pieces will be happy, except with the storyline at times.

The film starts with the four main characters “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson), “Face” Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A.Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copley), meeting by chance. Then after eight years they have 80 successful missions, before we meet the team again. This time the team are attempting to get some money plates that have been stolen in Iraq. They make a mess of the situation and with Morrison dead, the only man who knew it was their mission to sort out, they sentenced to ten years and have their titles removed. They break out of prison after six months, and then go on a mission to prove their innocence, and here is where the movie kicks in.

Maybe the key problem is the way the story is told. Just as the The A-Team barge in and attempt to solve everything with their disregard for anyone else, the story is told in a barrage of mess that it loses its focus and does not seem to care about the audience. We are often told the plan for the missions while they are happening. It just seems a bit of a waste, and does not really work. Director, Joe Carnahan, has tried to do something a little creative here I guess, but it just fails.

Another problem is with the message this film sends out. A lot of the film is set in Germany, yet the only Germans we see are, stereotypically German. Then, as seems typical for American heroes in action films, there is an absolutely total disregard for the chaos they leave behind. They blow stuff up, create mass panics in airports and fly tanks into a peaceful little lake, but whatever, the A-Team are just trying beat the bad guys! Why is it O.K for The A-Team to go around and kill people, but it is not for the bad guys? What is the difference when they are still killing innocent people? Team America: World Police perfected this, and show this kind of action for what it is, yet The A-Team does not seem to show any tongue-in-cheek in doing this, and it makes dull viewing. Do I really want to see a bunch of ultra-macho men blasting stuff up in Germany? No, not really. This may be a euro-centric view, but this film encapsulates why there is a lot of anti-American sentiment. It just is not a very European thing to put on film. The action film, in the West, is a very American genre, and it is hard to balance the right amount of action and quiet moments. The A-Team does not do this. And with a running time of around two hours, it by the time of the final set-piece, you are just waiting for the end.

The A-Team gives itself a chance of redemption however. B.A doubts if he should continue working for the A-Team. He does not want the violence anymore; he wants to leave that world behind him. He even quotes Gandhi, saying “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.” But, this cannot be allowed! Hannibal out-quotes him, an hits back with another Gandhi quote, saying “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence.” Well, I don’t think Gandhi had exactly the same ideas as The A-Team had. I cannot imagine Gandhi was thinking of blowing men up, and killing dozens of people, for some prints of American dollars.

One of the few highlights of the film is some of the written dialogue, mainly that of B.A and “Howling Mad” Murdock. They are at times funny, but it just does not save the other two-dimensional characters. There is little to care about them as they bustle around and make a mess of everything.

Overall, although there was not exactly high expectations when I was walking into The A-Team, but it did not even reach them. It is a spiralling mess in every sense, and sends out an awful message to audiences. This is about as pro-war as it can get it seems, and it was horrible to see some 10 year olds in the audience watching this. I just hope their parents let them know exactly how bad the message was!

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