On big-screen version of ‘A-Team,’ you get mega with your retro

Posted: June 10, 2010

The most testosterone-y thing "The A-Team" does isn't blowing up a million cars, a dozen planes, a chopper, a tank, a tanker or the port of Los Angeles.

No, it's having the entire violent pile of blood and mayhem endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi.

Now that takes cojones.

When one of the A-Team decides to become a pacifist, like Jules at the end of "Pulp Fiction," team leader Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) dredges up a quote from Gandhi to persuade him to again take up the sword.

The quote went by pretty fast, but it's along these lines: Nonviolence is fine for nonviolent people (sissies). But if you're truly violent by nature and you set aside violence as an option, you're not being true to yourself.

In fact, you're being "impotent."

This brings a new level of phallic subtext to the '80s-style action flick feted in "The A-Team," a movie that returns us to the days when big guys drove big cars, carried big guns and made big mushroom clouds.

To call it loud and stupid is beside the point, since that's what it's meant to be. Is it also kind of fun?

Well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh. There's a joke about 3-D movies that, for me, was worth the price of admission. But I got in free. It's your $8.50, and "MacGruber" is still out there somewhere, providing more or less the same experience in retro-'80s immersion and action-movie lunacy, at 70 percent of the running time.

But whereas "MacGruber" was made for 39 cents or so, no expense has been spared elevating the crummy George Peppard TV show to gargantuan "Transformer"-ish proportion. Neeson, the erstwhile Oskar Schindler, gives it respectability, and Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel provide generous helpings of beefcake and cheesecake.

And director Joe Carnahan ("Smokin' Aces") is valiantly determined to make his big studio movie as frantic and demented as possible - you'd have to be churlish not to enjoy the scene of a parachuting tank falling out of a vaporized C-130, doing battle with Predator drones and slowing its descent to earth by firing off its cannon.

All of the chaos is bound to inhibit coherence, though, and after an earsplitting hour or so, we begin to feel the futility of investing in the "story" - something about a shifty CIA guy (Patrick Wilson) and mercenaries and defense investigators (Biel) and the A-Team (also Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson) going after missing plates that could be used to make $100 bills.

We're warned at the beginning about the danger of using the plates to create billions in "unbacked" U.S. currency. Agreed. Now if we can get the A-Team to go after the Federal Reserve and major U.S. banks, we may actually get somewhere.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|