Animadversion: A-Team – Review by Kamran Jawaid & Farheen Jawaid

the following is the review’s unedited version, printed 27th June 2010 in iMAGES

A-Team

Man-On-Man Action with Explosions

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

In one mind-curdling action sequence in newly refurbished “The A-Team”, a state-of-the-art Tank, hanging on a single battered balloon nosedives to the ground with two drone boogies shooting it down. The tank commandeered by Col. Hannibal Smith – a cigar-smoking Liam Neeson, stepping in for George Peppard’s original “Hannibal”– shoots down the boogies and in a fantastically silly, gravity-defying maneuver and lands nose-first over an old-man on a drafty old-boat in a river somewhere.

Hannibal’s free-fall tactic to salvation was this: he has the Tank’s cannon rotate 45 degrees, fires twice to maneuver it over water, repositions the cannon to 90-degrees and fires away every shell in their armament to break the tank’s fall. Strangely, everyone survives.

In a sillier sequence, a few minutes earlier (or later, I keep forgetting in the regular sensory onslaught), a coordinated abduction has one member of the A-Team, “B.A. Barracus” – mix-martial arts champion Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, reimaging Mr.T’s original – slides down a 500-story building, and with precision timing, where “Face” breaks into an office floor, gasses the security, throws an Arab Sheikh over the broken window as he’s abducted mid-air by a swooping helicopter by “Howling-Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copley from “District 9” carrying the role over from Dwight Shultz).

In case you’re wondering, everyone in the A-Team has a label (the “A” stands for Alpha, we’re told earlier).

As the timer clocks towards the end, the action gets mutates into a more louder and harebrained spectacle. The final action sequence remodels the sleight of hand trick (the one where you keep your eye on the ball). The paper cups and balls are replaced by three large, jumbling, freight containers, crane hopping, car-crashing and hundred millions of damage to the American import industry – a cargo ship and a hundred-or-so shipments are pulverized to mush metal in blistering rage of madcap CGI explosions.

Forgetting the skeletal plot about dishonorably discharged Rangers, stolen counterfeiting engraving plates, shady CIA agents named Lynch (Patrick Wilson) and an agnostic ex girl–friend in hot pursuit (Jessica Biel) from the military, Joe “Smoking Aces” Carnahan, the director and co-writer with Brian Bloom (also playing the semi-lead wise-cracking mercenary villain Brock Pike) and bang-a-minute scribe Skip Woods (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Hitman”, “Swordfish”) deliver a package of cartoonish PG-13 violence – there is no gory bloodshed and two licentious kisses – while infixing dedicated time slots per lead character. “Hannibal” is betrayed. “Face” gets to play the lead. Murdock becomes the scapegoat. B.A. becomes a Gandhi disciple and Ms. Biel, being the hot-headed resourceful military type, is one kiss away from her reengagement with “Face”.

The detail isn’t in the plot, skinny as it is, or the bombarding CGI, blandly neurotic as it was, it’s about cheesy cartoonish fun. The original 80’s series created by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo was a “TV-Sitcom” (defined by film critic Roger Ebert in his review), a mixture of the “Dirty Dozen” meets “McGuyver” and it was meant to be a cheesy, funny, B-grade adventure. And it got NBC ratings for five seasons.

While this refurb tries to overcome the cheesiness with constantly boiling over action (two sequences less of CGI and more physical action would have been better), the comedy, is stretched too far between scenes. Instead of lampooning the tough-guy formula from the series, the movie establishes each lead as a single man army, capable of immaculate, sometimes inhuman, split-second timings.

In the first 20 minutes the newly formed team out-run and destroy state of the art military helicopters on a dead-beat medical chopper without ammunition, and no one’s scared for a minute. That has to look good on the big screen, despite the pandemonium. Director of Photography Mauro Fiore and Editors Roger Barton and Jim May are equal collaborators in Mr. Carnahan’s carnage. So is Alan Silvestri’s score.

How does the line go: “Wrongfully accused for a crime they didn’t commit”, “still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem. If no one else can help and if you can find them. You can hire the A-Team”. Mike Post and Pete Carpenter’s original theme still rocks.

“The A-Team” is rated PG-13 and its target audience, mostly, are testosterone seeking males. It features cheesy, if too many, special effects. Things go boom everywhere.

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

The 1980’s series A-Team didn’t have a thing named intelligence as a prerequisite to make it enjoyable, nor did it need it. And to be honest it didn’t have the space to accommodate it, as most of the time was filled to capacity with blasts, gunplay, ample fist fights and aerial getaways. This group of wacky, wisecracking, outlaw mercenaries for hire in the “A-Team” movie are the same breed, but somehow they lose most of the trademark screwy humor in a hot pursuit of action, which, from the start to the finish, bursts in every few minutes.

You don’t have to follow the plot because it’s not worth following. The thing that makes it worth a watch are the characters, who may not be the most rational beings out there. Made up as the coolest guys in the history of armed forces, this four-men group (Hannibal Smith, Face, B.A. Barracus and Howling-Mad Murdock) can plan and stick to missions to the extent of being ridiculous; and all action sequences asserts that notion.

Trivial, cocky action/comedy A-Team, everything aside, is fun and entertaining as the flying tanks in one of the action sequence. As Liam Neeson the leader of the group guides it to his desired direction by the force of the tanks gun in mid air. This sequence, like the movie, is a ludicrous bundle of fun. Miss it if you’re not ready for some dumb summer exuberance.

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/manonman-action-and-explosions-760

and

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/second-opinion-760

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