It’s become an almost standard mantra to describe big budget Hollywood summer films as “video games”, but usually that’s referring to their overuse of explosions, lightness of plot, and thinness of characters. Now the A-Team film has set a new point in the line between a movie and a game.
The best way to describe the film really is- it’s a video game playthrough where nobody has control but the director. This is best exemplified by it’s plot structure, which has more in common with Super Mario Brothers than it does with Citizen Kane. In general, the film runs as follows- five minutes of setup, fifteen minutes of action, rinse and repeat. In a 1 hour 58 minute film, we go through 5 “levels”, give or take- Mexico, Iraq, USA, Germany, LA Dockside. Each “level” having slightly different challenges for our characters to overcome, but all done in the same high-octane style that leaves the viewer unsure how to tell any level apart from the others. (Well, the level of over the top-ness does go up with each level, so I guess we could call that a dramatic build…sorta.)
Yes, the levels do have an overarching plot that almost qualifies as a story, but in general they’re so self-contained you could actually air them as 20 minutes TV episodes and I’m not sure the audience would feel any different. Heck, they might actually work better, since there’s no action-fatigue setting in with a break between them.
The actors did a fine enough job, I have no complaints about them, and the visuals were nice, but overall I’d rate it a watch for free on TV film at best.
One small, co-incidental and slightly chilling note, having just watched this film in light of the recent CIA operative in Pakistan being sprung by his superiors this film does have a ring all to close to reality in some parts. It seems certain people really can get away with murder.