Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer
There is a moment at the beginning of The A-Team that will serve as a perfect rubric for whether you will enjoy this movie. As the lights come up, we see a man whose face is obscured getting pummeled by some Mexican hard-asses. They decide to shoot him (with his own gun, to avoid tracing the crime back to them, naturally), but are unable to, as the firing pin has been removed. So instead, they decide to feed him to the dogs, and leave. As soon as they are off frame, this man (who has appeared to be unconscious, naturally again) reveals that the missing firing pin is in his hand, and he puts it in his handcuffs as the dogs begin running toward him. A few deft moves later, and out walks gray-haired Liam Neeson, none the worse for wear, lighting a cigar as “LT. HANNIBAL SMITH” is emblazoned across the screen.
Now the way I see it, there are three possible responses to this scenario:
- Wait…did his plan COUNT ON THE FACT that those guys WOULDN’T use another gun, and instead would LEAVE?
- Hiding the firing pin…that was pretty cool.
- HANNIBAL!! FUCK YEAH!!
Let’s go over what these three options mean for your ultimate enjoyment of this movie.
If your reaction to the first paragraph was most closely related to:
Option One: Whoo boy…save yourself the time and money, because you are going to hate The A-Team. The budget is certainly large, the effects are impressive, and they spared no expense with (most of) the cast, but as with most TV-to-movie remakes these days, it is both needlessly complicated and riddled with Sherman tank-sized plotholes. To wit, before the story even really BEGINS, you are going to have to accept the fact that Hannibal is better informed about situations than anyone else in the entire US Military (or government for that matter), and that these crazy plans of his that make him so good at what he does contain elements that could never ever EVER be planned out. (We are meant to be so happy during the first big action sequence that we overlook the fact that it could never have occurred if Hannibal hadn’t happened to run into a fellow Ranger with a working vehicle in the middle of the Mexican desert minutes before his man was burned alive.) And once you get into the actual plot of the movie (something about plates stolen from the US Mint that would allow Saddam Hussein – or evil and corrupt Americans – to counterfeit hundred dollar bills), your head will be spinning with the lunacy of it all.
Option Two: The odds are you’ll have a good, though not great, evening at the movies. Here’s the thing: for all of the madness documented above, The A-Team is still pretty damn fun. The action sequences are outlandish, but it’s done that way by design. (“These guys specialize in the impossible.” the stupidly cast Jessica Biel intones at one point.) So while you might see the guys jump onto a speeding truck from below, “fly” a tank plummeting to the earth, or using massive tractor trailers as a giant game of cup and balls, you accept these impossibilities as part of the conceit of the movie. It might not make a ton of sense…but it’s damn fun to see nonetheless.
The potential for disappointment comes from the fact that anyone not invested in the characters already might feel a bit unfulfilled. If you want to go see Hannibal, Face, B.A., and Murdock kick ass, that’s all well and good (and see Option Three), but if you’re merely looking to see a good and competent action movie, then there’s a chance that all the cleverness in the world won’t stop you from ending up at Option One.
Option Three: Buckle yourself in, brother…The A-TEAM IS HERE!!! For true fans of the series (are there any?) this movie adaptation delivers in all the ways you would hope. We get to see true evidence of Murdock’s “howling” madness, the full degree of Face’s way with women (and men, as evidenced by his tricked out jail cell), and even the origin of B.A.’s fear of flying. Also, like in Batman Begins and Iron Man, we are allowed to see just how this foursome came together initially, which is fun and satisfying in a way that an ongoing series can’t create. And if you’re REALLY die-hard, stick around until the credits are over so you can cheer yourself hoarse!!
And there you have it; the first five minutes tells the tale for the whole movie. If you like fun, summer action without too much thinking attached, then by all means head on down to the theater. But if you require true thought and cohesion in your movies, then you’ll probably wish the studios had assigned their a-team to this one.