Starring Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, and Quinton Jackson
Directed by Joe Carnahan (Narc)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking
Appropriate for ages 15+
An elite group of U.S. soldiers look to clear their name after they’ve been framed for a major crime and sentenced to prison. Once out of prison, they must figure out a way to not only reclaim their innocence, but stop the bad guys as well.
This is the epitome of big, dumb action films. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Sometimes you need some really huge action without having to think. From start to finish, this film is loaded down with gigantic explosives, huge stunts, and what must have been a very expensive special effects budget. And it’s always to fun to see some new ideas that have never even been conceived before, such as a helicopter turning off to avoid heat seeker missiles, or a tank falling through the sky by parachute and shooting down drones on the way down.
Here’s the problem – you can’t stop for one minute and think about it. For instance, the opening scene has Hannibal (Neeson) captured by a couple of Mexican lawmen. One of the thugs is told to kill him. He is about to shoot him in the head when he is told to stop and use Hannibal’s gun instead. He tries to use it and it doesn’t work, so they leave him to be eaten by the dogs. Now here is the problem: the scene requires the timing of the plan to be perfect. But what would have happened if the Mexican lawman would have just shot him in the head with the working gun? I know, Hannibal would be dead and we wouldn’t have a movie, but that’s not the point. Everything in this film runs on perfect timing built on insane assumptions such as this. So my suggestion again – don’t think about it.
The acting here is a mixed bag also. Bradley Cooper is certainly getting much better and he could very well be a superstar someday. Neeson makes for a good Hannibal and I didn’t have a problem with Jackson as Baracus. What did bug me was the miscasting of Sharlton Copley (District 9) as Murdock. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, it’s just that he hasn’t gotten the accent down yet. And it seemed like the filmmakers sort of gave up on him. Occasionally he gives a nice red-neck, but his very thick South African pops up way too much, and only once intentionally.
Aside from those annoying timing issues, the script works for the most part. The dialogue is fairly witty and were it not for all of the lame CIA Lynch jokes I would claim pretty consistently funny (according to the story everyone from the CIA is named agent Lynch – haha).
Overall, I walked out of the theater thinking that for the most part, some of the ideas ideas were at least original and entertaining. Ridiculous, but entertaining. C+