This weekend sees the release of The A-Team, Joe Carnahan's feature-length adaptation of the beloved '80s show about a group of super-cool soldiers of fortune. The critical response has been less than deafening; herewith, the Wire presents some of the major strains of critique, painstakingly framed as a series of labored plays on words.
- Writers Didn't Bring Their A-Game Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times has little patience for the film, which he calls "an incomprehensible mess with the 1980s TV show embedded inside." He reserves particular derision for a scene where the members of the A-Team "fall from an exploding airplane while inside an armored tank. As the tank hurtles to the ground (cf. Newton's Law of Gravity), the team leader, Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), looks out an opening and barks out commands for the tank's gun. I am paraphrasing: 'Turn 45 degrees to the left! Fire! Twenty-five degrees to the right! Fire!' In this way, he is able to direct the fall of the tank and save their lives. This is very funny."
- Did It Have to Be So A-dolescent? Salon's Andrew O'Hehir tries, and fails, to find a reason why this movie needed to be made. "We've seen quite enough resuscitated mid-'80s pop-culture mediocrity, thank you, and the TV 'A-Team' didn't even rise to that level ... I watched the film at a nearly empty preview screening and the effect was desperate, like being cornered at a cocktail party by an Amway distributor." O'Hehir concedes that "if you can switch your mind off entirely, so you become measurably dumber during the two hours you're sitting there, and you never think about the fact that the gross national product of Equatorial Guinea was spent several times over on this stupid, empty and noisy event, it's largely painless."
- Mr. T Does Not A-pprove Laurence Tureaud, better known as the gruff, mohawked Mr. T, has disavowed the film, even though he was one of the stars of the original series. "People die in the film and there's plenty of sex but when we did it, no one got hurt and it was all played for fun and family entertainment. These seem to be elements nobody is interested in anymore," T told reporters last week. "It was too graphic for me. I've no doubt it will do big business at the box office but it's nothing like the show we turned out every week."
- These Guys Seem Like A-Holes The A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin beats around no bush. "The A-Team's titular aggregation of Army Rangers-turned-outlaws spend an awful lot of time cracking up and flashing shit-eating grins ... That spirit of smug self-satisfaction pervades the film, which high-fives itself at every opportunity." Rabin goes on to note that "the film's featherweight tone and self-conscious excess would be a lot more palatable if everyone didn't seem so insufferably pleased with themselves. The film acts as if it's won the race before the starting gun has even been fired."