A-Team vs. Expendables: Which Mercenary Movie Will Reign Supreme?
It's a mercenary kind of summer, with The Losers, The Expendables, and The A-Team all ripsnorting out of the studio gates with soldiers of fortune in the saddle. But of those three, there is a certain fraternal bond shared between The Expendables and The A-Team in particular -- the kind of weird emotional ping that twins experience when something happens to one or the other, even miles away. Here, in Sylvester Stallone's paramilitary adventure and Joe Carnahan's pop-culture recycling binge, we have a perfect storm of '80s recidivism and '10s accessibility. And it's worth studying the DNA samples handed over (via this week's A-Team and Expendables trailers) to determine which film promises the purer thrill. Your results may vary -- read on to find out.
[All measures gauged on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being mercenary-flick nirvana.]
· Nostalgia Quotient
The combined genre experience of the Expendables trailer's cast is 158 years, spanning such franchises as Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard, The Terminator, The Transporter, and Crank. The A-Team's quartet has nothing like that, though one look at those characters' names falling into place onscreen (not unlike the actors' surnames in Expendables) -- not to mention the look at B.A. Baracus's van (which is soon totaled in a nicely ironic touch) -- goes a long way for the 30-something crowd that will jump even higher at the nostalgic implications.
The Expendables: 7
The A-Team: 8
· Sex Quotient
The A-Team has the starlet in Jessica Biel, who gets the earlier screen glimpse and the way higher-profile kiss (with Bradley Cooper). But Expendables actress Giselle Itié gets the dangerous circumstances as the gang's "contact": She's been kidnapped (and look how she glistens in her dungeon) by insurgents who want to "keel thees Amereecan diseeeeease!" Plus she gets more lines than Biel, and one can only imagine what ludicrous plot device enables the kiss Itié shares with Jason Statham while a country's political future teeters in the explodey balance. That's hot.
The Expendables: 6
The A-Team: 5
· Testosterone Quotient
This one's not even close: The Expendables has biceps, The A-Team has wiles. The Expendables has sneers and grunts, The A-Team has smirks and zingers. The Expendables has masculine American duty, The A-Team has a gang of war veterans skedaddling off the reservation. The Expendables has hand-to-hand combat. The A-Team has Murdoch trying to jump-start an ambulance with a defibrillator. Even the body art is a wash: A heavily inked Stallone gets his orders from Mickey Rourke in a tattoo studio; the best B.A. Baracus can do are a couple knuckle stamps. Pathetic.
The Expendables: 9
The A-Team: 5
· Mission Quotient
Another wash. What's harder: Penetrating a South American military cabal or outmaneuvering Patrick Wilson? Come to think of it, what the hell is the A-Team's mission? (Apart from making show creator Steven J. Cannell even wealthier, that is.)
The Expendables: 7
The A-Team: 4
· Metrosexuality Quotient
If you want to build longevity in 2010, you've got to look beyond the quadrants and make a crossover impression. And when it comes to stylish, well-coiffed and dignified gentlemen who can break a mercenary wankfest out of its genre trap, no one has a better shot than Bradley Cooper as Face. Bruce Willis does clean up all right in his Expendables cameo, but can he rock a robe this smoothly while being wrapped in tractor tires and punched in the face? Or make such shirtless philosophical entreaties with this kind of ease? That would be a "No."
The Expendables: 4
The A-Team: 7
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