Blu-ray Review: The A-Team (2010)

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In a feverish attempt to play 2010 movie catch-up in preparation for reviews, award voting duty and end-of-the-year cinema lists, I spent a gluttonous December gorging on the movies I had missed. And while sometimes I lucked out and saw two or even three terrific screeners back-to-back, additionally I also suffered through the increasingly incoherent and excessive side of 2010's bigger-is-better mentality.

Repeatedly, I stumbled into odd juxtapositions and intriguing comparisons when haphazardly following up one flick with another, forming strange double features by weaving a thread of pictures to create a daring tapestry to see how some fit serendipitously well together and others caused absolute chaos when taken in one after another.

For example, I learned that the fastest way to give yourself one whopper of a headache that even the strongest of Advil liquid gels just can't cure is to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The A-Team in a single day.

Although taken separately, these video game style works are bad enough in the way that they assault your senses with rapid cuts and cacophonous sounds but when viewed back-to-back, Scott and A-Team represent the very epitome of everything that's wrong with modern day moviemaking. Yet it's slightly easier to forgive in the case of Scott Pilgrim since – even if it doesn't work – the creative excess that runs amok actually comes from a place of great intention to innovate and provoke.

Unfortunately, The A-Team is so nonsensically over-the-top that it made me rethink every joke I've made at the expense of Michael Bay because at least in his movies, you know what's going on. Additionally since “I love it when a plan comes together,” is the favored mantra of former Special Forces war veteran turned soldier of fortune Col. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson), it's ironic that nothing quite comes together in director Joe Carnahan's big budget, big screen adaptation of the smash '80s TV series.

And if you can overlook the laughable continuity errors that repeatedly fail to sync up the expensive stunts and CGI heavy action in one of the sloppiest edited summer blockbusters of last year, The A-Team digs its own grave with an ill-conceived, repetitive structural device that grinds the show-stopping sequences to a halt.

Unsure whether or not they want to show us something or tell us about it, just when we start to get lost in the spectacle of the mindless action, Carnahan's editors repeatedly jolt us out of the fun by inserting clips of the characters describing the plan they're carrying out. And when you couple the constant back-and-forth of the planning stage with explanations with the actual chaotic footage of Hannibal's men on their insane missions (wherein no shot lasts longer than three seconds), what you're left with is one mess of a movie.

It seems inconceivable that The A-Team could botch up the action for which the original campy TV series is known but the filmmakers do one hell of a masterful job ruining millions of dollars of material with lousy editing.

Yet even when we're faced with part of a sequence that isn't interrupted by a flashback purported to prescribe meaning to the madness, the plans those behind-the-scenes do unfold swing for the fences. This Team is all about the extreme with regard to everything from tone to volume to taste, logic and presentation. And ultimately we realize that the filmmakers just can't keep their penchant for ADD addled action in check.

So essentially it's a frantic rather than fun ride that we can't wait to escape... if only to soothe our aching heads. And although Fox delivers a truly high quality Blu-ray that is much easier to bear in your home theatre as opposed to the one at the multiplex, Carnahan's loud and obnoxious spin on the '80s TV favorite is still harder to digest than Speed Racer, which was incidentally edited by one of this film's cutters.

Moreover, for true original Team spirit, instead of this A that feels more like a “D,” or the more entertaining yet overly simplistic Expendables that I also witnessed in my December movie marathon, seek out WB's underrated, tongue-in-cheek men-on-a-mission graphic novel adaptation of The Losers, which proves you don't need an “A” to be one.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.