Whether you’re changing governments or running from governments or just trying to escape day care, the perfect action team can be the difference between life, death and being drooled over by toddlers. So here are the year’s best bands of brothers, sisters and toys, and the things that set them apart…*
*And no, we’re not putting Four Lions in. That would be wrong.
Film: The Expendables
Members: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture)
Leader: Barney Ross
MVP: Lee Christmas
In terms of muscles, bullets and sheer destructive force, there’s no question that this was the team of the year. Individually, they’ve already taken apart governments, gangsters and mere bad guys in their careers; collectively, is it any surprise that they take down an entire country’s security forces, with bonus CIA and mercenary assistance to overcome, on their day off?
Members: Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy), Saito (Ken Watanabe), Yusuf (Dileep Rao)
It’s brains over brawn for this lot, who value the ability to creep into the unconscious, maintain a dream in perfect equilibrium or brew up a new and better dream formula over the ability to throw a punch (although that won’t hurt either). Anyway, who needs to tangle with henchmen when you could be untangling the id?
Film: The A-Team
Members: Colonel Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), Lt. ‘Faceman’ Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson), Captain H.M. Murdock (Sharlto Copley)
Leader: *Colonel Hannibal Smith
MVP: Lt. ‘Faceman’ Peck
The chemistry was built in to the characters already, so we knew what we were in for: the leader, the muscle, the mad genius, the cool one. What was impressive this time was how well a new cast made the characters work, from Liam Neeson’s majestic Hannibal to Sharlto Copley’s pleasantly twitchy Murdoch.
Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One
Members: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
Leader: Harry Potter
MVP: Hermione Granger
The penultimate Potter saw our central trio out of the comforting confines of Hogwarts and on the run from the law, and it turned out that they’re capable of some bad-assery. Harry and Ron dived into icy waters, all three infiltrated the Ministry of Magic in disguise, but MVP, no question, is Hermione, consistently the most prepared of the group.
Film: Toy Story 3
Members: Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark)
MVP: Buzz Lightyear
Here’s a team who are more like family than anything else. Sure, there are occasional misunderstandings and disagreements, the occasional reboot of a key member in Spanish mode and problems involving sandboxes, but there’s such an abiding love and friendship between this gang that it would be a crime to separate them. Thank god Andy figures out the same thing.
Film: How To Train Your Dragon
Members: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig)
The product of hundreds of years of training in killing dragons, you have to be impressed when this lot turn it around and decide to fly on the darn things instead. The fact that they almost instantaneously turn into a dog-fighting unit to be reckoned with is even more impressive, if a little implausible. Still, with adorable Hiccup and Toothless leading them, they’re clearly on the side of the angels.
Film: Whip It!
Members: Bliss “Babe Ruthless” Cavendar (Ellen Page), Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), Rosa Sparks (Eve)
Leader:* Maggie Mayhem
MVP: Babe Ruthless
Roller skates. Pun-tastic nicknames. Fishnet tights. Violence. There is nothing about roller derby and this team in particular that isn’t awesome. Whether you’re loving the girl power or the short skirts, the Hurl Scouts offer something for everyone as they throw elbows in their opponent’s faces and outrun the opposition. Win!
Film: The Losers
Members: *Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Chris Evans), Rogue (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), Aisha (Zoe Saldana)
Like The A-Team, they’re set up by those they work with, and this turns out to be a very bad idea for those employers. Left for dead in South America, the team lay some serious smackdown when they’re offered the chance to get their lives back. While the film was patchy and the sequel-baiting ending rather irritating, we did like the dynamic between this crew – grizzled leader, cocky tech expert, cool sniper and all.
Film: The Town
Members: Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert ‘Gloansy’ Magloan (Slaine), Desmond Elden (Owen Burke)
Leader: Doug MacRay
MVP: Gloansy – if only for the scene where he distracts the Feds with some nifty ambulance driving.
If you’re going to be career criminals, you need to be disciplined. You need to trust each other. And you need to be really, really good at robbing banks without then getting whacked off of Scooby snacks. This lot are all three, for a very long time. But can they hold on with the FBI closing in and romantic complications threatening? Er. Probably not.
Member: Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie)
Leader: Evelyn Salt
MVP: Evelyn Salt
Salt is so capable that she’s a one-woman army and earns a place on this list without needing actual companions. She can withstand torture, earn a high place in the CIA, organise and carry out secret missions, and evade the attentions of every branch of the US security forces and Secret Service, using nothing but the contents of a small rucksack and possibly a pot of hair dye. Set her on the War on Terror and it’d be over by Christmas.