As you can probably guess, The A Team was bad. Not “thoroughly unwatchable, From Paris With Love” bad, but bad nonetheless. It was very, very poorly written, and the acting was only slightly better than the writing. Pseudo-intellectuals like myself* make fun of action movies all the time, and usually the mockery centers around the explosions and special effects. And sure, those things are lame. I can’t stand chase scenes, either. But to me the real bane of the action genre is the constant, desperate grasps at comic relief. In almost every case, it undermines what the movie is trying to accomplish. You can’t build drama and suspense with your characters falling over each other to pull pranks and crack wise. And really, unless both the writers and the cast of a movie are legitimate funny people, the movie shouldn’t be trying to make us laugh. It won’t work.
*I’m guessing actual intellectuals (historians, philosophers, scientists, etc.) don’t concern themselves much with bad movies. They leave that to the people who try to pass themselves off as intellectual by blogging, not being able to afford cable, and ridiculing that which is popular. a truly noble calling, Stoney Film Criticism.
At least that’s the theory. In practice, it most certainly does work. The audience was yuckin’ it up throughout A-Team. Every request for a laugh was immediately met. This is true of every movie I see at Union Square. Bunch of fucking idiots up in there. But its easy to get to, and its right by The Strand, and it plays all the most popular movies with frequent show-times. So I see probably half my movies there. This has made me increasingly bitter towards the movie-going public. I blame their simpering, tractable laughter for feeding this increasingly predictable and stale film industry. These people are the reason bad movies keep being made. Their laughter is like nails on a chalkboard to me. It was on display in full force for A-Team.
I’m gonna stop there, because I really don’t want to pick on this movie. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, but felt like I should see the movie in support of Rampage Jackson (and, by extension, MMA). I also half-remembered liking the TV show as a kid, although I could recall virtually nothing of it except that there was a character named Murdock. Throw in my increasing concern for Liam Neeson’s sanity and my shameful attraction Jessica Biel, and yes, there was reason enough to see this movie. But I went in expecting bad, and I didn’t have enough real affection for the show to pull me through. I’ve talked to a couple legitimate A-Team fans that were pretty happy with the movie. They liked that it delved into the team’s past, and they felt like it basically stayed true to the show and its characters. So I could see liking it if I remembered more of the show. God knows if either of those Transformers movies had been just “pretty bad” I would’ve loved them.
I’m not actually that interested in talking about the plot. Partly because its stupid, and partly because you can probably already pretty much piece it together without seeing the movie. Crazy team does crazy stuff, has various enemies. The end. The cast, however, is star-studded and worth discussion. So I thought we’d just go straight to that.
Liam Neeson- OK, let’s get this out of the way. I don’t want to make fun of Neeson. I’ve always liked him. His wife passed away tragically not long ago, and by all accounts they actually loved each other and had found happiness together. That is an extreme rarity among actors, and deserving of respect in my book.
I feel bad for Neeson, but someone needs to sit him down before he does permanent damage to his legacy. This is getting ridiculous. First Taken (“I don’t have any money, but I have a very particular set of skills”), then Clash of the Titans (“RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!”), now A-Team (“I love it when a plan comes together!”). I don’t want to see a man I formerly idolized screaming catch phrases in bad movie commercials anymore. Someone throw the guy a lifeline. Picking good roles is the most important part of being a respectable actor. It’s basically the only part. Neeson has obviously lost the touch, which is what happens when actors go/are crazy (see Travolta, John). I don’t want to see how this ends. Liam, for the love of god, quit the action genre and go back to legitimate dramas where you belong.
Bradley Cooper- I’ve been saying I like Cooper for a while now, but I should probably stop. It’s unseemly for a man to like another man simply because of his good looks. I should hate Cooper. He was a fucking douche in The Hangover, and I have to spend months every year looking at his face on terrible romantic comedy subway posters. His role in A-Team was basically to inject as much Entourage-style humor as possible, and I just hate that junk. I hate how its taken hold. Awesome dudes being awesome. This is now the most popular form of comedy among young males. And Macgruber can’t get no regard. Fuck that.
Bradley Cooper is, if nothing else, an interesting study on just how far being good-looking can get you. I’m a straight man and I’ve been under his spell for ever since Wedding Crashers. No more! I won’t like this guy. I can’t. He’s the new Matthew Mcconaughey.
Rampage Jackson- I knew Rampage was likely to turn in a bad performance. I mean, when you hire an athlete with no acting experience to star in a feature film, there’s only really one way that can end. I really like Rampage, but some of his scenes were painful to watch. They tried to do some things with the character that they really shouldn’t have. Namely, make him vulnerable. I don’t want to see B.A. Baracus questioning violence and revealing conflicting emotions. I want to see him hurting and, if possible, killing people. There was some of that, but it was couched in wishy-washy nonsense.
Par exampla: His most bad-ass scene in the movie was totally ruined. He rides this dude down on a motorcycle, picks him up, and slams him on his head, killing him instantly. They’d been after this guy for years, he’d betrayed them, and now he was dead. Perfect time for some triumphant exultation, right (perhaps a wolf howl?)? WRONG! Instead we get the following:
Bradley Cooper: “How’s your conscience, BA?”
Rampage Jackson: (long pause) “At peace.” Yuck.
Rampage was bad, but I still think he was the right man for this role. It shouldn’t have required advanced acting skills. God knows Mr. T didn’t have any. Rampage, on the other hand, was asked to do things he should never have been asked to do. He’s a professional fighter, not Michael Clark Duncan. More punching, less acting. I really think he could’ve pulled this off if handled correctly. And really, who else was gonna play this role? Ron Artest?
Sharlto Copley- This guy is a relative unknown compared to the other members of the team, but my fellow nerds will no doubt recognize him from his role as Wikus van de Merwe in the SFC 2009 movie of the year, District Nine. Copley plays my former boy Murdock. He is by far the best of this “fab four”, despite the fact that his character is forced to participate in a never-ending myriad of lame gags (He’s crazy! Or is he? Yeah, he is…crazy like a fox!). In one scene he cooks hamburgers with gunpowder, and Cooper references him using anti-freeze as some sort of marinade. Really stupid stuff. Stuff that should be beneath even an action audience, but apparently isn’t.
Still, Copley fights through the putrid dialogue and is able to deliver a few decent laughs. He’s obviously very talented. Apparently he improvised all of his dialogue in District Nine. I found that very impressive. I’m not gonna hold this role against him. The Murdock character was way, way too over-the-top, but I still enjoyed watching him work. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Copley in the future. And if you haven’t seen District Nine yet, get that shit on your Netflix queue. You won’t be disappointed.
Jessica Biel- As much as I disliked virtually all of the other characters, Biel was by far the worst. She really sucks. Unfortunately, she happens to be about the hottest woman out there right now. I struggle to think of anyone I’d rather defile. That body is just too perfect. Rock-hard but not too skinny. Flawlessly proportioned. Muy bueno. I actually like her face, too, although I know some people don’t. Biel is one of the few celebrities I’m actually interested in looking at pictures of. Beach, red carpet, whatever. I find her look totally intoxicating.
Her personality, however, is revolting. Thats been obvious ever since she started her campaign to break free of the Seventh Heaven good girl mold. Biel is in a constant, desperate search for increased fame. She dates other celebrities, she’s all over the Maxim circuit and the Cosmo circuit, so she’s got the worst of both genders covered. Listen to her talk for five minutes and you can tell she’s totally vapid. I’m absolutely positive I would despise her in real life.
Her role in A-Team is actually a little worse than I expected. For one thing, her character is totally useless. She’s some sort of military cop (or something) who basically just follows in the A-Teams’ wake making stern quips and acting like a bitch. She’s obviously only around as the obligatory love interest for Bradley Cooper. Any shared screen time they have is totally laughable. One scene in particular in a photo booth made me want to reach through the screen and clunk their heads together. So, so frustrating. Even the fact that they’re the two best looking people on the planet couldn’t save them.
And here’s the kicker: Biel is wearing full military garb the whole time. No bikinis, no sex scenes, not even a tight dress or short shorts. Why hire that bod if you’re not gonna use it? Did they really bring in Biel for her acting? What, was Megan Fox unavailable?
God help this woman if she ever runs into me in a dark alley. Actually, god help us both.
I probably shouldn’t review movies like this. I can’t help but feel like I just flushed 3 hours and 2,000 words right down the turlet. From here on out I’m gonna stick to the oscar contenders.
Next week: Jonah Hex.