Go ahead, turn that imaginary knob on the side of your head down a few clicks. For the right blockbuster, it’s OK to give your brain a break. If you want to truly enjoy the shoot-em-ups of summer, you won’t want to ponder too intensely the probabilities of mind-numbing action sequences.
Go ahead, turn that imaginary knob on the side of your head down a few clicks.
For the right blockbuster, it’s OK to give your brain a break.
If you want to truly enjoy the shoot-em-ups of summer, you won’t want to ponder too intensely the probabilities of mind-numbing action sequences.
Just ease back in your seat, let your jaw hang a little and get stupid for a couple hours of explosive entertainment.
At a theater near you
It’s outrageous. Over-the-top. Completely ridiculous at times.
And I was more than prepared to hate it.
But this blockbuster reboot of ’80s TV vigilantes “The A-Team” kicked my low expectations’ butt.
An excellently paced action romp with the right mix of humor and homage, this new “A-Team” accomplished something I didn’t think possible: Making me forget, for two-plus hours, about my allegiance to the cast of my childhood, which included George Peppard as Hannibal, Mr. T as B.A. Baracus, Dwight Schultz as Howling Mad Murdock and Dirk Benedict as Face.
(Fans from the ’80s, be sure to stick around until after the credits have rolled for a treat.)
Stepping capably (surprisingly so) into the film roles are a grizzled Liam Neeson (Hannibal), mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (B.A.), fresh off his “District 9” debut Sharlto Copley (Murdock) and, as much as I hate to admit it (I’m not usually a fan), Bradley Cooper (Face).
Jessica Biel leads the always-two-steps-behind U.S. military as Capt. Charisa Sosa; Brian Bloom is bad-guy special forces grunt Pike; and Patrick Wilson (“Watchmen”) is CIA spook Lynch.
This modern retelling takes our Alpha Team straight into the War on Terror, stationed outside of Baghdad, where one off-the-books mission leads to their wrongful conviction, dishonorable discharge, subsequent escapes from maximum-security prisons and an improbable plot to exact justice and clear their names.
But before that, we get a fun, frenetic intro (eight years and 80 or so missions earlier), in which this fearsome foursome becomes fast friends – crossing paths while staging a thrilling escape from a Mexican drug lord. (“Overkill is underrated.”)
It’s an immediate shot of adrenaline, and a necessary nod to the eccentricities that have made these characters endearing for 20-plus years – Hannibal’s hastily-hatched plans, Face’s smarmy seductions, Murdock’s madness and B.A.’s mohawk, pity for fools and aversion to the air.
There’s really no point in pontificating about the plot.
Suffice to say, the plan comes together beautifully.
If only there was something likable about bald, goateed, cocaine-snorting bruiser Charlie Wax. Or his straight-laced, spectacled new spy partner James Reece. Or Reece’s overbearing romantic interest Caroline.
Or even the cocaine-filled vase, a character in itself in that it gets more screen-time than nearly everyone else in the cast of “From Paris With Love,” a mess of an action movie recently released on DVD.
Mindless action ain’t so bad, as long as it’s fun and somehow redeeming.
But this is more like dumb action.
It’s not just mind-numbing; it’s the equivalent of a movie lobotomy, which explains the headache.
As the title promises, it opens on “Paris,” the city of love, with a sweet serenade about an ambitious intelligence agent (Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Reece) who seems to get it all in one night – a proposal from his live-in girlfriend and a chance to partner with a real spy.
So far, it’s just boring.
But the minute Wax (John Travolta) bursts onto the scene, the film literally jerks into incomprehensible chaos and not-so-clever quips (“Wax on, Wax off”).
Not even trying to hide the pointlessness of the plot, Wax mumbles incoherently to his drug-addled partner more than halfway through that “it’s about terrorrrssttss.”
You mean it’s not about bringing down the drug ring that made the cocaine that caused the director of defense’s niece to overdose?
No, that was just a ruse.
And so is just about everything else in this ridiculous thrill-ride, as Wax – whose rampant, unorthodox methods have come to be accepted by the suits because they “get results” – tests the limits and guts of his new lackey, teaching him to shoot first, never ask questions and don’t mind the body count.
I wish it was that easy.
Action doesn’t have to be mindless at all.
In some cases, it’s mind-bending.
Summer’s got something smarter in store with “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” opening July 16 and starring Leo DiCaprio, in which “the mind is the scene of the crime.”
Previews make this one look like a cross between Nolan’s “Memento” in 2000 and “The Matrix.” It also stars Ken Watanabe (Ra’s al Ghul in “Batman Begins”), Joseph Gordon Levitt (“500 Days of Summer”) and Ellen Page (“Juno”).
Or you could wait until September, when Matt Damon takes on “The Adjustment Bureau,” a sci-fi thriller based on a story by Philip K. Dick (the mind behind “Blade Runner,” “Total Recall” and “Minority Report,” among others).
The “Bureau” is a group of guys in old-fashioned suits and wide-brimmed hats who are tasked with keeping our lives on a predetermined track.
When a politician with a promising future (Damon as David Norris) bumps into a beautiful woman (Emily Blunt), he threatens to derail that plan and thus needs an “adjustment.” It opens Sept. 17.
Robert McCune is editor of The Independent in Massillon, Ohio. Contact him at 330-775-1124 or Robert.McCune@IndeOnline.com.