Jay’s summer film confession (a.k.a. “You saw WHAT?!?”)
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself that going to the movies is, inherently, not exactly something you can call “Daring”. Skydiving is daring. Bungee jumping is daring. Riding in a Toyota is daring, for a number of reasons. But sitting in a darkened theater with a piece of cinema? Meh. So let me explain.
You see, I’d been warned by at least a dozen people that seeing this movie was a bad idea. They said the trailers looked bad, they said that the general concept of the movie was poor, and that there was NO WAY ON EARTH that this movie could have any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Even Parris himself chided me that it would be a waste of time to see this movie.
So I’m here today to tell you something very important: There’s a recent movie that you probably haven’t seen yet, that’s still in your local theater, and it’s totally worth your time and money. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s probably BETTER if you see it in the theaters, because this is one of those times when having the big screen and a nice, booming sound system makes the movie a more complete experience. Ignore what your friends tell you about this. Set aside your preconceived notions. I’m here to tell you, right now, that there’s a 2010 movie you probably haven’t seen that you NEED to see, because it’s just so much fun, and so entertaining. In fact, I had so much fun that I’m adding this into my list of Top 10 Films for 2010.
Find out what the hell I’m talking about after the break.
That movie…. is The A-Team.
…. WAIT! Don’t go yet. And whatever you do, don’t laugh. I’m being totally serious. The A-Team is really good. Despite what you might think, despite what you might have heard, the A-Team isn’t a bad movie.
Now, before I tell you why I liked this movie, let me clarify one thing: I’m not exactly what you’d call a die hard fan of the original TV series from the 80’s. When I sat down in the theater, I wasn’t particularly beholden to the series and felt no need for the movie to meet any kind of standards from the original show. In fact, if you asked me to list my key memories from the old show, this is what I could tell you:
- Dirk Benedict was an expert at tracking down Cylons at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Mr-T hated to fly
- George Peppard was, without a doubt, the worst version of Godzilla ever created
- If you saw a Jeep, it would probably flip over and/or explode at some point.
- If something could blow up in a fiery explosion, the A-Team would probably find a way to make that happen.
So going into the movie, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what the movie should be. I didn’t look at this as a rebirth of a franchise. I didn’t care if it was a sequel, a prequel, or a reboot (it’s actually the third option, just FYI). I wasn’t expecting this to be a deep, dark, Nolan-esque world that took a cheesy idea and made it as visceral and intense as possible.
This is the A-Team. When I sat down in the theater, my expectations were simple. I wanted to laugh. I wanted the action scenes to be big, with lots of explosions. I didn’t want it to be Shakespeare. I just wanted to be entertained.
I was even prepared to dislike certain elements. You’ve heard me on the podcast before, when I mentioned that I wasn’t keen on some of the casting. Liam Neeson in the Hannibal role felt wrong, and I wondered who, in their right mind, could possibly think it was a good idea to cast Sharlto Copley as Murdock.
Twenty minutes into the movie, I was in love. The first action sequence wrapped up (and it’s a long one.. the movie doesn’t stop to catch its breath until about 20 minutes in) and I felt hooked. There was no way I was getting up from my seat, for fear of missing some of the fun. I couldn’t even get up to tell the manager that the air conditioning in my theater was broken, because I didn’t want to take a chance that I’d miss something.
The A-Team isn’t about taking an old story and revitalizing it with 21st century ideas. It’s not about taking a classic concept and making it darker and more realistic. The A-Team is unabashedly exactly what it was in the 1980’s: An action film with a healthy dose of cheese. Is it something you believe could genuinely happen in your backyard? No. But that doesn’t matter. The A-Team is fun. It’s a good little movie that asks one simple courtesy of you: Sit down, turn off your brain, and have fun. Do that, and you’ll be hard pressed not to have a good time.
The casting in the movie, with one exception, works. Liam Neeson actually pulls off a decent Hannibal Smith, much to my own surprise, and Bradley Cooper makes for a really entertaining update to Face. Quentin “Rampage” Jackson made for one hell of an update to Mr-T. BUT… and here’s the scary part… Sharlto Copley makes for a flippin’ fantastic Murdock. I was laughing at him a few times, especially when he starts mocking Mel Gibson (watch the movie, you’ll see what I mean). He manages to get that blend of “funny”, “eccentric”, and “insane” just right, and it never gets annoying.
Even Patrick Wilson (aka “That Guy from Watchmen”) works well as the CIA agent. In fact, the only really lacking performance here is Jessica Biel, who toes the line between “pointless” and “terrible” over the entire two hour ride. She’s easily replaced by any number of actresses, and I found myself wondering at several points whether or not Megan Fox would have made for a good replacement for her. And I hate Megan Fox. Jessica Biel’s performance is painful to watch. Whenever you see her on screen, ignore her. Tell yourself that a cool explosion or action sequence is coming in a few minutes, and hold onto that. It’ll help you get through her scenes.
And while there are multiple throwbacks to the original series (some big and proud, some left as tiny little things in the background), you never feel like the movie is just performing lip service to your memories of the TV show.
So whatever your friends are telling you, ignore them. Whatever preconceived notions you have, put them aside. You should even ignore the critic reviews. The ones that chastise the film are only taking it to task because it’s not a serious action thriller. That’s not what this movie is about. It just wants to entertain you. It just wants you to have fun. It’s all about explosions, and jokes. It doesn’t take itself seriously, so you shouldn’t either.
The entire time I watched this, I had a huge grin on my face. I didn’t mind that the A-Team’s story wasn’t the best piece of writing ever. I didn’t care that it was a bit campy. The A-Team was a fun ride the entire way through, because it reminds me that sometimes, it’s OK to like a movie just for what it is, rather than what it could be. And sometimes, in the middle of heavy writing, movies that make you cry, and intense thrillers…. all you really want is a good action film.
If you want to see a good movie, if you can turn off your brain for two hours, and if you can find a local theater playing it, then you should go see… The A-Team.
Keep your eye out at the end for one of the best cameos of the year. And don’t forget to stick around until the end of the credits.