Friday, June 11, 2010

the A-team (2010)

“A”-Grade Explosive Fun
by Reymundo Salao

Some fans of the original and Mr. T himself have expressed displeasure over the film, citing that it was unfaithful to the original. But then again, the original was made in the 80's, when it was almost pure taboo for a primetime TV series like the A-team to contain some gunfight “violence”, and also lacked a certain level of budget that allows some real action. You have a story that involves a crack commando unit, unjustly accused for a crime they didn’t commit, turned soldiers of fortune... you think you can pull off turning that concept into a movie with only fistfights and gunless action? Not unless you’re aiming to make a joke of a movie that wouldn’t be funny to begin with. The A-team, in my opinion, is ripe for a needed rehash. And not unless you really are a purist of the original TV series, I believe this movie adaptation gives it justice.

The A-team is wild action and fun-filled comedy rolled into one hell of a ballistic adventure. Surprisingly, even though this movie does have more than enough gunfights, the violence is almost unnoticeably kept to a minimal (kinda like the original TV series).

What I loved about this A-team movie is that even though it had some ridiculous stunts and action sequences, it compensates for attempting to inject some brains on it, and never does surrender itself into being just something that is dumb action. It does not have the Michael Bay format that relies too much on MTV-style, John Woo-rip-off, action hero vanity shots. It never becomes a lazily derivative parody of itself the way the 2000 and 2003 Charlie's Angels movies were. Instead, it took the concept of the original and, in my opinion, took a step forward to improve it and interpret it in more cinematic and spectacular standards.

Sharlto Copley as Murdock was the comedic energy behind the movie. He manages to make the team hilariously appealing. At the same time, he does it well enough not to draw too much attention unto himself to the point of being a Jack Sparrow clone. No, he is beyond cloning Jack Sparrow; he's crazier. The breakthrough star of the breakthrough movie District 9 is having another memorable role on this one; a successful second Hollywood appearance that is quickly upgrading him into superstardom.

Even though I initially felt Liam Neeson couldn’t fit in as Hannibal Smith, the leader of the A-team, I now consider his casting as a perfect fit. Expect from an actor like him to have an effortless yet smooth transition from his former serious and fatherly mentor roles (Ducard from Batman Begins, and the father from Taken) and into a team leader who acts with a rugged "boss-man" personality.

Bradley Cooper as Face does it well, with all the charm and arrogance of somebody who has that "pretty-boy James Bond of the group" persona. And filling in for the B.A. Baracus role is UFC fighter Quinton Jackson. It must be a nightmare of a responsibility to fill the shoes of Mr. T, the character who pretty much carries the banner of the original A-team. Jackson did well. But he needs to be grumpier like Mr. T was, and should learn to erase that gentle emo facial expression he has (if ever he comes back for a sequel to be made).

What is so refreshing here is that up from the beginning till the middle portion of the film, there is no clear villain. Lt. Sosa (Jessica Biel) and her unit are just doing their roles in trying to bring the outlaw A-team to justice, the CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) may be such an asshole as he may be but he seems to be just doing his duties as a tricky little spymaster, and the A-team are just trying to clear their name while they're on the run and kicking ass. I could not help but be impressed by their three-way game of semi-espionage. But then, as expected, the second half of the movie is predictable, but still fun.

The one thing I did not like was the introductory part of the movie which felt like it lacked some sense. I'm talking about a part in the movie wherein all the main characters are introduced to each other, which was sloppy and sort of confusing. The kind of intro that makes you doubt if you missed out on an earlier scene. But once the clumsily horrible introduction got out of the way, the movie marches well fluidly.

The blend of comedy and marvelous action drives the energy of the movie. The fun action it has kinda reminds me of how fun the earlier Indiana Jones movies were; quirky, inventive, and explosive. Nowadays, it's not easy to plot out an impressive action sequence anymore, it seems like all the good ideas have already been taken. This movie breaks expectations as it goes on to the next level and resorts to the silly and the batshit crazy ones. And using insane stunts is quite in tune with the concept of the A-team, as one character from the movie puts it: "They specialize in the ridiculous"

This movie was quite a roller coaster. A definite full-price movie, especially if you’re watching it with friends or family. The A-TEAM is indeed back for a new generation to love.

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