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The A-Team (2010)
There is no plan B.
Filmmaker(s): Joe Carnahan

A group of Iraq War veterans goes on the run from U.S. military forces while they try to clear their names after being framed for a crime they didn't commit. Along the way, Col. Hannibal Smith, Capt. H.M. ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock , Sgt. Bosco ‘B.A.’ Baracus, and Lt. Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck help out various people they encounter.

The A-Team (2010)

Architectural Plans

I’m not going to denigrate what are usually called mindless summer movies, because I think there is something important here.

Sure, the usual fears apply. Most people take the characters and world dynamics seriously. Yes, I know, but they would be doing that anyway. And young minds (say, younger than 30) are epigenetically modifying their genes and those of their children to have short attention spans. That surely is a concern.

But folks, we are inventing a new visual vocabulary. Even this relatively minor film matters. Clearly, why we have these is that there is a handy overlap between consumers who seek visceral excitement and producers who want stuff that can only be best seen on the big screen, where profits are high and piracy is non-existent. These producers need to outdo the last experience in some way, so there is a market force that allows creative types the freedom to push things a bit further.

What they are doing impresses the daylights out of me. Less so here, but this is still valuable. They are experimenting with space in three ways:

  • the scene set in three dimensions where the “stage” has motion in all directions. Often that follows the “Hell’s Angels” model, which most will know as the “Star Wars” model of movement in the air. Here, we have some pretty good flying scenes. Several of them and the fact that they are extreme is woven into the story: one character develops a fear of flying.
  • the camera woven in space in new ways. Not so much of that here, in terms of innovation. In fact this is a step back from the “Transformers” and “Speed Racer” experiments.
  • space as enclosing architecture. This is not the most adventuresome in this respect either, but there is a nod to the concern with many setups where confinement matters in the narrative flow and is shown cinematically. There is a bit about confusing shipping containers at the end (presaged in the beginning with a container full of money that drives the story). We have confusions of inside, we have confusions of containing identity, and then confusions among the wasted architecture. Competent.

Hollywood is now in a state where you have an action imagineer that is on par with the story writer. Each leaves holes for the other. The action guy these days has his own, dedicated AP and internal production team, coordinating effects in subcontractors. I imagine that we have already crossed the point where these guys will become celebrities in their own rights, like some communities celebrate kung fu fight choreographers.

Pay attention to how the notion of “plan” is used.

Posted in 2010

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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