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The A-Holes

by Kavish Chetty / 12.08.2010

The A-Team plays cannibal to its own history. Consuming decades of banal Hollywood gristle, it spits out every cliché, every time-worn trope, yanks at every fruit which dares to hang within the adolescent’s grubby reach – and the result is predictably bullshit. The thing is, if you’re the sort of person who buys a ticket for this film, then this is the sort of film that you’d pay to see, which means you’re the sort of person this film was made for. Pardon the incomprehensible logic, there is a point behind it. The point is that action-drama, warlike spectacle, whatever you want to call it – it’s a brainless pursuit designed to flex and spasm some atavistic impulse inside us all. It’s the sort of film that glorifies the instinct to war; that shivers with pleasure when the orgasm of explosion is consummated on screen. It revels in vengeance and violence, swallowed down with vinegary popcorn. It’s inexcusably idiotic and you can’t argue with it, because that’s exactly its point.

There is something so American about this obsession with violence. In The A-Team, the four principal characters (the leader, the playboy, the tough-guy, the maniac) laugh and “yahoo!”, all but fucking bump their pectoral muscles together, when they kill someone. When B.A. Baracus (or Mr. T as everyone knows him) undergoes a spiritual transfiguration while in prison, he gives up on his bloodthirst. But the climax that the film is unmistakably heading towards wants to accomplish one thing: how we can show Baracus that it’s okay to kill again? How can we get him to relinquish his thoughtful pacifism and find the same pleasure in death as the audience? Well, with petrol drums, dynamite, wrestling moves and witless dialogue, of course! That’s character development for you!

As to why the hell they chose to make a reboot film about The A-Team, I’m clueless. Hasn’t the whole of the generation who were alive to watch that show died out yet? It’s impossible to pick a fight with a film which endeavours to be stupid and boorish and charm its audience with the fleeting promise of nostalgia, made from memories best forgotten.

Which brings us, rather arbitrarily, to Sharlto Copley – playing Howling Mad Murdock. If you’ve forgotten already, Copley played one-hit wonder Wikus van der Merwe in District 9. His American accent is as convincing as Schabir Schaik’s ill health. He tries for the southern drawl, but it comes out more Bellville than Bellevue.

So what are you actually expected to see? Well, incoherent and kinetic editing work that could induce epilepsy. Lots of gunshots (rat-a-tat-tat) and airborne dogfights (whoosh). Plot or purpose? Shh! don’t ask questions. Just sink into your seat and suck on your straw. Enjoy the symptoms of a culture now hopelessly entangled in the idiocy of its own punchlines.

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