The A-Team (Joe Carnahan, 2010; photographed by Mauro Fiore)
These movies are always better than you expect them to be. Though I liked Joe Carnahan's reversible film par excellence / shit-just-keeps-getting-worse shoot 'em up Smokin' Aces (and had heard a lot of kind words from the right people about this one), I didn't get around to actually seeing The A-Team until recently. Aside from stray observations (Liam Neeson is becoming the James Mason of action movies, Sharlto Copley wants to be the Jesse Eisenberg to Andy Serkis' Michael Cera, the appeal of Bradley Cooper is that he can make a face like a dog that's very happy to see you, Quinton Jackson is fine / charming but they should've cast Terry Crews, etc.), the big lesson here is how much actually directing action scenes instead of just throwing half-images up on the screen can improve a movie. Carnahan cribs a lot from John McTiernan here, which is good, because McTiernan's got a great sense of action-geometry and knows how to arrange opposing forces in a frame (it helps that Mauro Fiore does a killer Jan de Bont, right down to the magnesium-bright lens flares). It also helps that, like a lot of good action directors, Carnahan is also a fairly talented comedy director as well (in a post-Tarantino genre-archetypes-hanging-out-and-bullshitting-each-other sort of way); effective action and comedy are both all about timing.