I’ll admit to watching The A-Team on TV while growing up (not some re-run on cable), and in my memory, it was a fun series to watch. It was one of the more action-packed series that was constantly filled with escapades, gunfire and explosions on a weekly basis. Even at that young age (this was before there was a serious consideration towards content, entertainment was more prevailing) I could see the nonsense of how the enemy would have a dozen men, standing in the open, guns blazing in every which direction and our heroes would still remain untouched. Fuck, even the evil minions are hardly ever hit by any kind of shrapnel. I didn’t really know what ‘shitty silliness’ was, but I learned fast in watching the series. Now we skip ahead almost 30 years and we have the big screen version of The A-Team, wrangled together by the director of such outrageous action fare such as Smokin’ Aces and well… he did Narc and only Smokin’ Aces has the outrageous action sequences. Joe Carnahan directs with much confidence in his stars, having assembled a truly remarkable foursome to fill in the big shoes left by George Peppard, Drik Benedict, Dwight Shucltz and Mr. T.
As the movie opens, we see how Hannibal (Liam Neeson), while on a mission to rescue Face (Bradley Cooper), meets up with BA (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and later recruits Murdock (an excellent scene-stealing Sharlto Copley, proving that his performance in District 9 was no fluke). By the time the team is together, the main title comes up and we’re into the movie proper as we jump years later to Iraq. As with the opening of every episode of the TV series, we see how they get framed and become fugitives who try to clear their name and honor. So, yes – this is just the beginning, but director Caranahan and his co-writers Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, do keep the plot rolling along at a nice clip. If you’re planning to watch this movie, you generally know the overview of the plot in any case and we have a basic men-on-a-mission action flick to enjoy. They do try to be smart with some of the twists, but seasoned viewers might see thing certain things coming a mile off. As with the TV series, no matter how bad things got, there’s always a plan in motion. Needless to say, this is very much “a guy movie” with token lady, Jessica Biel, not getting very much to do as she chases down our heroic fugitive while looking nice, hot, gorgeous, ravishing, blissful, delicious, tender, hypnotic,oh and pretty. Even Zoe Saldana had more to do in The Losers, The A-Team wannabe flick that was released a couple of months back. While we’re making comparisons, at least Patrick Wilson’s CIA stooge, “Lynch,” seems more viable than Jason Patric’s “Max” although you could sense the “prinkness” (I know! Not a word!) a mile away. While the main cast gels equally well here as the cast of The Losers did – Neeson is commanding, Cooper is charming (in parts), Jackson is fearsome motherfucker and Copley is remarkable; all four having fantastic chemistry with each other even if slightly laking in character, except Copley’s Murdock – The A-Team does one better in terms of the action.
The A-Team is BLUNT and practically bombastic with its action set-pieces from the opening sequence, at least two high-flying aerial sequences all the way to the downright crazy (and typically unbelievably insane) finale. It still reeks of camp, but there’s a sense of realism now in that people do get hurt, blood (a little) does splatter and our heroes can get knocked down a peg or two. It’s not quite grim, but it can get gritty and there is a real sense of danger in the air.
To be honest, I walked out feeling better than I usually do when TV shows are converted into films. It was ok compared to others… Remember Miami Vice? Now that was a piece-of-shit! Overall, The A-Team presents rambunctious fun, also one where guys can get together and not feel guilty about enjoying such silly or even ridiculous action. True blue fans will want to stay through the credits for the tag that comes at the end.
GENRE: Action/Adventure and Comedy
ROARS: 3.5 Out of 5
Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2 Hrs.
CAST: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel
DIRECTOR: Joe Carnahan