INTERVIEW: A-Team director Joe Carnahan
I got a chance recently to talk to Joe Carnahan, the director of the upcoming A-TEAM movie and executive producer of SMOKIN' ACES 2, which hits DVD and Blu-ray today. He directed the original film and came back to shepherd the sequel, which stars Tom Berenger, Vinnie Jones and Tommy Flanagan. Check out what he had to say below about turning ACES into a franchise, internet trolls and A-TEAM sequels!
Sometimes with direct-to-DVD sequels, the quality is subpar but this looked and felt like a theatrical release.
[Director] PJ Pesce shot the hell out of it. David Geddes, the DP, did a great job and he had Craig Henighan do the sound. He does Aronofsky's films and he's doing A-TEAM with me so he had a top flight crew working on that movie man. I know he's very happy with it. I haven't seen it. The copies I've seen are the earlier versions so I'm looking forward to seeing it in all its glory.
Did you ever think you might direct this film?
I didn't. It was always that movie in particular was...the fact Universal let me make the movie is a source of great curiosity to me. I thought it was kind of a platypus of a movie, in a good way. It was something that I got out of my system and I had a few years of false starts and things I wanted to get going that weren't happening so knowing I wanted to go into this and try everything. Put very black comedy against drama and see if it held together. For whatever success or failure that movie had, it's purely of its own. It had it's own id and that's what is great about it. That was a moment in time and I don't want to repeat that. However I thought it'd be fun to go into that world as a voyeur. That's what this process let me do.
Was this concept - a prequel - always what you envisioned for a second film?
SMOKIN ACES was always a lot more political than I think people...whatever my failure to convey that narratively, it was always intended to be this allegory for Iraq. Bad information that leads to a surge of dubious characters that gives way to heedless violence that has no real explanation and in the end the government make a better deal. That's how I tracked the film. For this one, in order to better understand the other movie, I want to lead with my chin a little bit. I wanted this to be aware early on that the Tom Berenger character is a flag-waving conservative Republican male. But this also came out of frustration with my own father's political bend. There's nothing more dangerous, at the time, in this country than the 60-year-old white, male conservative. It was terrifying. To take that and then give these guys the strength of their convictions and almost turn them into a jihadist was funny to me. Putting it in the world that was set up in the first film would support that so that's where it came from.
Do you think this is a franchise that could continue to spawn future films?
It's crazy because we found out this week that the movie is the most pirated film on the web behind AVATAR.
I don't know if that's good news or bad news.
I don't know! I think it's bad though. It certainly shows there is an appetite for it. The thieves that are taking it, may they rot in the ass of hell but... I don't know. If we were to move forward, it would have to stay ironic and sardonic and not just become a big action, bullets-flying flick. If it has some contextual element to it that works, I'd be in.
Could it keep going without your input at all?
I would only hope that the fine folks at Universal would include me in it. There are some proprietary involvement and I don't want to let it loose and have it become one of these franchises where they keep cranking it out and there's no end to it. Each film should comment on the others and push the prior version further into whatever it may be. As long as it stays with some sort of geo-political bent, I'd be into it.
With producing, you worked on THE FOURTH KIND and now this film. Do you see yourself shepherding more films through development as you continue to direct?
For the FOURTH, that was originally this project. That was set up for Olumanude to direct. Like a lot of things, I'm fascinated by a number of different topics so if there's talent there and interest and there's something there that we could do that would be unusual, I'd be into it. Whatever it's level of success or failure, if you have the means I think you should do it. Certainly I've been fortunate. I've got a movie (A-TEAM) that people are waiting for. The iron is hot. You have to get in there and do your thing.
The A-TEAM trailer just came out the other day. Have you been following any of the buzz or comments online?
I didn't. The problem is that I read stuff and you never know what you're gonna get. You delve into the sites and you're asking for trouble. I stopped doing that. I had the blog for two years and I discontinued that. It just got to be a lot of energy going out there and to engage them is to become them. That's a dangerous thing. The people who are enthusiastic about it, God bless them. We're gonna make good on all those expectations. The trailer was designed to appeal to fans of the show and let them know that we hadn't gone and threw out the baby with the bath water. So I'm always tepid about these type of things. We just gotta keep our heads down. June 11th is looming. I'm just very, very pleased with it. I can't imagine anyone watching this movie and not being excited afterward for what it is and what it could be. We absolutely nailed every part of it. It'll all come out in the wash. I could just be talking a bunch of shit (laughs)...
Is Fox talking to you about the franchise yet and bringing everyone back for sequels?
You don't want to sound like a douche like I'll jinx it but I'd work with those guys in ANY capacity, anywhere. If they wanted to do HAPPY DAYS and we had to figure out Potsie, Ralph, Fonz and Richie we could do it. I had a great time with them. They absolutely answered the bell in any way.