Monday, October 10, 2011

Great Scotts! No pity for the fool?

Sorry, guess I should've said SPOILER ALERT. Maybe I nodded off for a couple seconds, but I'm pretty sure the new B.A. Baracus did NOT say "I pity the fool." Probably out of reverence for the role that Mr. T made his own. But he's older now and doesn't fill out his frame quite like he did when he was young, and they didn't even bring Mr. Tureaud back in a time-travel-style subplot to warn the young Baracus about the dangers ahead... Tureaud; isn't that French! Traitor! Go back to the Eiffel Tower, this is America! And take your ketchup fortune with you! Oh, wait, wrong Administration...
But perhaps it's an apt comment after all, because this A-Team movie does take place against an Iraqi backdrop. It's an expensive looking $110 million movie version of this 80s TV show that managed to last five seasons. I didn't get to see the end credits to see if they used that old Cannell vanity logo with the man sitting at a typewriter furiously typing and ripping the page from it, making the page his bitch. But I did notice that it was a Scott Free production! Both Ridley and Tony were on duty, so for those expecting a straightforward Expendables-style mangasm will probably be disappointed. This film features Tony Scott stylistics, with a Ridley Scott script: better-than-average, or at least, featuring some length of bells and whistles. And of course, director Joe Carnahan gives himself a nice cameo where he gets to play a cool guy. The days of directors sitting in the back seats of cabs are long gone. Too much at stake. No, the closest you'll get these days is You Can Count On Me. But I digress.
The plot is sufficiently labyrinthine, but I think I got it the first go-round. Plots have to be that way these days, they just have to. Somehow, they tried to jam too many movie references together for my taste. Part Munich, part The Hurt Locker, I'm assuming part Body of Lies, part of the ending of Lethal Weapon 2, there's too many ingredients in the soup. You know, they say that the Coen brothers write parts for specific actors. That sort of dynamic seemed to be at work here in the plot with the presence of District 9 actor Sharlto Copley. Unfortunately, the result is not as prestigious. The fact that his American cowboy accent slipped so much didn't exactly help me, either. No disrespect, though. He was pretty great in District 9 and probably the best thing here. Although Brian Bloom was pretty good, too, as the Blackwater-style bad guy. Still, I can't help but wonder what Ray Liotta would've done with the role. More spoilers: Why they had to give such a juicy role to Gerald McRaney, I'll never know. I guess he was ready for it, but I fear that, unlike Hal Holbrook, there's not going to be an Oscar nomination any time soon.
As for Jessica Biel, well, she's a sweetie pie. She almost pulled off the role for me, but perhaps it wasn't worth pulling off anyway. Debra Messing seemed to play a similar thankless role in the McHale's Navy movie, but she's too old for this sort of thing now, isn't she? It's on to the mother roles now! Sorry, I guess that was a little mean, so I'll balance it out by trashing Liam Neeson. Actually, Liam was pretty good in this role. Well, he's doing this kind of role now. Taken, Unknown to a lesser extent... Still, you're pushing 60, dude! How can you kick as much ass as the rest of the A-Team? Kicking ass is a young man's game, my friend. He even says at one point that he's still as fast as he ever was. Somehow, I think that was his contribution to the script. He even gets to wear his hair brunette at one point. Boy, all those right-wingers who complain that Social Security's failing because people are living longer... maybe they've got a good point after all! Let's just move to a Logan's Run system, just for the sake of keeping people's dignity... Of course, Logan did try to fight the system, didn't he? I guess that doesn't matter... not to mention the fact that none of these guys ages a whole lot after 10 years. Why didn't they make it five? Kind of a wink to fans of the original show. Pretend that this starts off where the original series ended.
Why do I feel a need to spend an extra paragraph on the black dude? I just do. He did okay here! Let's hope he can keep doing movies, and may he never have to go against Emelianenko, for God's sake. But like most of these token black guy roles, he's the heart of the film. He does call people "fool" a lot, but he provides a rare action movie philosophical moment. When he's in prison, he doesn't convert to Islam, but he does find a kindred spirit in the teachings of Gandhi, and when he gets out, he tells the rest of the A-Team that he can't kill any more. And thus, a cloud hangs over the proceedings, so much so that Hannibal Smith finds ANOTHER Gandhi quote, a more pro-violence quote... I forget what it is, but I'm sure we'll all be repeating it soon enough. Then Einstein, Martin Luther King, David Hume, and all the other great philosophical 'icons' will fall, and we'll all just do whatever the hell we want, and not have to justify anything ever again using philosophical arguments. ESPECIALLY not Ayn Rand... Hmm! Maybe it won't be so bad after all!


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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