The gangs that you want to be part of.
This year has seen the resurgence of the ‘gang’ on a mission. So to celebrate the release of Inception and The A-Team we take a look at the best gangs who are the only ones who can save the day, rescue the girl, and do it all with a fun banter between buddies.
The cream of the crop when it comes to efficient and slick teams. Led by the effortlessly cool Danny Ocean (Clooney) the merry 11 all serve a distinct purpose within the group. From Rusty’s (Pitt) meticulous planning, Linus’ (Damon) under-the-radar conman, to Livingston’s (Jemison) technical nous there is no ounce of fat here. That they manage to pull off the heist with such panache and charm gives them rightful top billing. We just wish we could be invited to their Christmas party.
Fearless Leader: Danny Ocean (George Clooney)
Team Bonding Moment: Stood in front of the vast fountains in Las Vegas, their mission a resounding success, no words are needed.
Scene Stealer: Everyone has their moment but it is Rusty who always manages to raise a smile with his sarcastic put-downs and constant snacking. Further proof that Pitt is always at his best as a supporting actor rather than a lead. Controversy.
The Expendables: Action junky overload as the biggest bicep names of all time come together. Frankly there is so much testosterone on display here that watching it could cause hairs to grow on your eyeballs.
Fearless leader: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone)
Team Bonding Moment: The team assembled, they gather round to set out the mission plan. As each member asks what the pay is all the team’s insecurities bubble to the surface in brilliantly buddy baiting banter.
Scene Stealer: It’s a tough one but it goes to The Governator himself Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger for appearing in just one scene but giving the film cult status for having Willis, Sly and Schwartz all on screen together. Jet Li’s kung-fu master with little man syndrome comes a close second and deserves special mention.
The Avengers: This one is cheating a little, as it won’t be for a couple of years before we see this team on the big screen. However, the sheer potential of having everyone from Iron Man (Downey Jnr), Thor (Hemsworth), Captain America (Evans), The Hulk (Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Renner), Black Widow (Johansson) and Nick Fury (Jackson) is too good to pass up. Alone this lot are near unstoppable, together they are a geek-hood wet dream, we know, we’ve had a few.
Fearless Leader: Tricky, as it is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who calls the shots but it is Captain America (Chris Evans, no not that one) who leads them into battle
Team Bonding Moment: The entire cast standing on the stage at this year’s Comic-Con. Here comes that wet dream again.
Scene Stealer: Almost certainly Robert Downy Jnr’s Iron Man.
The A-Team: As Captain Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel) puts it these lot “are the best, and they specialize in the ridiculous”. What director Joe Caranhan did so well with this big screen outing was taking the group dynamic of the TV and injecting it with cinematic set-pieces. If anything, showing us how the gang got together allows the audience to invest more in the bonds that are formed on screen. The fact that the film is so utterly over the top is forgivable thanks to the unique balance each character brings to the story. Hannibal (Neeson) is the straight shooting leader, Face (Cooper) the charming tactician, BA (Jackson) the muscle with nervous insecurities and Murdock (Copley) the bonkers pilot. Ridiculously fun doesn’t even begin to cover this gang.
Fearless Leader: Colonel Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson)
Team Bonding Moment: As the team escape certain capture in a bang-up helicopter Murdock produces some death-defying stunts with each character perfectly responding in their own unique way cementing what we always knew about each of them.
Scene Stealer: Captain H.M. Murdock. Crazier than a bag of rabid squirrels, Murdock manages to always be the one to bring a smile to both the team and audiences’ face.
The X-Men: If ever there was a bunch of mismatched mutants this is it. As with all good gangs though this team put aside their prejudices and differences to save humanity, who have shunned them no less, and save the day. That they all have super-cool super-powers helps matters as well. Even the latest instalment to the franchise X-Men Origins: Wolverine was at its best when dealing with the gang of mercenaries rather than old Logan on his own. Expect more of the same gang-busting in Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming X-Men First Class.
Fearless Leader: While Professor X (Patrick Stewart) calls the shots it’s Cyclops (James Marsden) who leads from the front.
Team Bonding Moment: Trapped on top of the Statue Of Liberty the X-Men realise they can defeat the evil Magneto if they play as a team rather than individuals.
Scene Stealer: Wolverine simply for his grumpy manners mixed with his endless rage.
The Magnificent Seven: Although technically a remake of Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven pip their original counterparts by sheer levels of Hollywood iconic cool. A group of guns for hire put aside their desire for money in order to stand up for the little guy, in this case a Mexican village terrorised by bandits, and in doing so are rewarded in the bonds they form. That not all of them make it to the credits means this film packs extra emotional punch.
Fearless Leader: Chris Larabee Adams, played to hundred-yard-stare perfection by Yul Brynner.
Team Bonding Moment: When the Seven first encounter the villainous Calvera (Eli Wallach) each pops out to make themselves known with the final say going to McQueen: “We deal in lead friend”.
Scene Stealer: Brilliantly all of the Seven get a highlight moment, Britt’s (James Coburn) knife throw is one that stands out, but it is Vin Tanner who takes the plaudits here. Played to ‘give a crap’ cool by Steve McQueen every moment he’s on screen you’re eyes are naturally drawn to him, something the actor excelled at in all of his films. See The Great Escape below.
Inception: What is so staggeringly brilliant about Christopher Nolan’s dreamscape film is that each of the group of specialists who take part in the ‘heist’ represents a unique part of our sub-conscious. While leader Cobb is our guide we need the ensemble to create and flesh out the world around us. So Ariadne (Ellen Page) creates the landscape while Eames (Tom Hardy) makes it authentic. When the tag line states “Your mind is the scene of the crime” it’s because Nolan and his posse have injected ideas that ring terrifyingly true to our own deepest darkest thoughts.
Fearless Leader: Dom Cobb (Leonard DiCaprio)
Team Bonding Moment: Standing in their finished dream world, for the first time, the team check every detail to make ensure even they can not tell it apart from reality.
Scene Stealer: Tom Hardy’s Eames has the knack for underselling even the most bizarre of situation. In particular walking into a gunfight with a grenade launcher and the words: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling”. The stuff memorable characters are made of, or was that idea implanted in our mind?
The Great Escape: The true life story of a group of allied soldiers captured and imprisoned in a POW camp, they make it their mission to help the allied war effort by trying to escape, if only to waste German resources in capturing them again. As with all great gangs each person plays a specific role to wonderful effect. What truly touches though is the bond formed between the escapees as they desperately try and flee occupied Europe.
Fearless Leader: Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett “Big X”
Team Bonding Moment: One of countless decoy operations to distract the German guards from the digging below the huts, be it singing or digging in the garden the ingenuity on offer is always a delight.
Scene Stealer: Captain Hilts “The Cooler King”. Once again Steve McQueen proving he is a match for any ensemble cast, he manages to be the epitome of cool. Witness his nonchalant way he happily strolls into solitary confinement every time he is captured, and he’s not even supposed to be part of the bigger escape plan.
The Goonies: These treasure-hunting kids manage to ingrain themselves on your heart thanks to each one being uniquely identifiable as someone you grew up with. While the adolescent squabbling is always present they invariably find ways to express their friendship for each other.
Fearless Leader: Mikey Walsh (Sean Austin)
Team Bonding Moment: About to be pulled to safety from the maze of caves they find themselves in, Mikey delivers a resounding speech that echoes through the group. “Down here it’s our time, it’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket”.
Scene Stealer: It’s a tough one as each character is intrinsic to the tone of the film but the ever-inventive Data (Jonathan Ke Quan) clinches it thanks to his ludicrous, but always helpful contraptions, that he some how stores under his overcoat.
Saving Private Ryan: The men on a mission, risking their lives, to save just one man. In presenting such a bizarre premise Steven Spielberg and writer Robert Rodat allow for a hugely engrossing group dynamic in which they are all willing each other to survive the ordeal. That Captain Miller will later tell Ryan to “Earn this” is testament to the sacrifice that has been made on his behalf.
Fearless Leader: Captain J H Miller.
Team Bonding Moment: As the unit set out on their quest the conversation turns to the logic of ‘the math’ of this situation. The response echoes from their translator Upman “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die” as he quotes Tennyson’s Charge Of The Light Brigade.
Scene Stealer: Private Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper) clichés it as the Unit’s sniper, who has enough brilliant moments to just edge out his comrades.
Serenity: The crew of the Firefly class space ship Serenity are what great sci-fi is made of. While the world they occupy might be fantastical everyone on offer is deeply human in the best and worst sense making them a motley crew (sorry) that you cannot help but fall in love with. The constant bickering and questioning orders only lends itself to the family nucleus created.
Fearless Leader: Captain Malcolm Reynolds. (Nathan Fillion)
Team Bonding Moment: With a hit TV series already under their belts this lot are already bonded come the filmic outing. However, the opening ‘trip’ through the ship allows us to quickly digest each character’s place in the group to wonderfully effective levels.
Scene Stealer: There really is no competition here, it’s Captain Mal all the way. Like an even grumpier Han Solo, Mal always has a witty line up his sleeve irrelevant of the dangers ahead.
The Losers: Very much like the A-Team this is a bunch of Mercs on a mission but with brilliant self-deprecating pathos. They’ve been together long enough to be able to tease each other endlessly but always having each others backs. That they have a seriously kick-ass Zoe Saldana join them early on helps level out the macho chat.
Fearless Leader: Tough talking, gravel voiced Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)
Team Bonding Moment: Emerging from coffins having been smuggled back into the USA the team plan their revenge on those that have framed them.
Scene Stealer: The team’s communications expert Jensen steals it thanks to a geek chic performance by Chris Evans (Not that one). He always has a zinging one liner ready when all else fails.
RED: If you think The Expendables are made up of old folks then you haven’t seen anything yet. RED stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous and this lot are bored of the retirement side of life. That they have to worry about stiff joints as well as the bad guys only adds to the comedic values.
Fearless Leader: Bruce Willis on typically dry form as Frank Moses.
Team Bonding Moment: As the Old Aged Pensioners recruit the final member, a fun Helen Mirren as a deadly assassin, it is like ‘getting the band back together’.
Scene Stealer: John Malkovich’s Marvin Bogg’s is brilliantly crazy having had experiments done on him with LSD. Even when the film falters he is on hand to pick it up with his wild eyes and paranoid nuances.