August is the month for the big summer blockbusters, three in total.
The A-Team is a failed attempt to revive a well-loved franchise. First, the good: both Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley were great as Face and Murdoch, using all the right ticks for those characters. Some of the action sequences (i.e. the numerous explosions) were decent enough. That’s about it. The rest was a mish-mash of nonsensical plot, with too many pointless threads and characters. Given the film was trying to establish four strong leads, adding a half dozen other people to the mix really left little time for much else. Liam Neeson’s Hannibal was an interesting idea, portraying him as a meticulous and obsessive planner, but we don’t get enough time with him to really see it pay off. Quinton Jackson’s take on BA was pretty poor. Rather than being the mean, near invulnerable hulk of the series, we get a generic brawler who, to add yet another sup-plot, finds religion. There were some good ideas on show, but they were drowning in franchise building, dumb plotting, and the apparent need to move to the next action set-piece. Poor. (See my A-Team Twitter review).
The Expendables, on the other hand, made to qualms about what it was. Sure, the plot was perfunctory and the characters paper-thin, but that was the point. It was all about getting the biggest action movie stars of the last three decades together to revel in their artform. It’s a big dumb action film, with all the explosions, guns, and hand-to-hand fighting you could hope for. If you want a story, don’t bother. If you want to see Stallone fight Lundgren, then this is the film for you. (See my The Expendables Twitter review).
Finally, Salt is a fairly straightforward action-thriller. It borrows heavily from the improvisational spy style of the early part of the Bourne trilogy, but without either the story or meaty contact to really see it through. While a handful of the set-pieces are genuinely well-done, they get lost in the predictable “twists” of the thriller plot. It’s the usual 24-style movie-plot threat and by the time it actually happens you really won’t care. A shame. (See my Salt Twitter review).
The winner is The Expendables, for it’s no-nonsense action sensibility. It would have lost in many other months, but up against two other action films, it’s no contest.