It’s nice to know that you can still get what you
expect at the multiplex. A big-screen summer adaptation
of The A-Team involving Joe Carnahan, Ridley Scott
and his brother Tony Scott is bound to be a high-octane
display of mindless machismo! All three filmmakers are known
for stylized films showcasing junk being blown up real good
with full acknowledgment of any irony, humor or symbolism
go in expecting some in-depth character development with
a thought-provoking plot, you will not only be thoroughly
disappointed but it will also show that you were completely
unprepared going in. Take it for what it is, a fast and
funny bullet-riddled yarn that adds a solid kick to a summer
movie-going season that is so far quite tepid.
are those who are worried Carnahan’s movie will disregard
everything they loved about the TV series or that there
will be an insane amount of violence and sex. Those folks
can put their mind at ease since none of that can be found
here. Take heart that one of the producers involved here
is concept creator Steven J. Cannell,on hand to ensure the
tone doesn’t stray too far away from the source material.
As for the violence and sex, you can find much more to cover
your kid’s eyes from on network television. While
the over-the-top violence is intact, you will see some bad
guys actually getting hurt but it’s minimal compared
to what pop culture has dished out recently.
film starts out in dusty Mexico, with the sweaty introduction
of a battered Col. John “Hannibal” Smith (a
silver-haired Liam Neeson), held captive by officers of
a corrupt General. His escape is as smooth as it is quick,
leading to a coincidental meet-up with Sergeant Bosco “B.A.”
Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), driving
a pimped-out GMC Vandura van across the desert. Hannibal
forcefully coerces B.A. to accompany him in rescuing his
comrade, Lieutenant Templeton “Faceman or Face”
Peck (Bradley Cooper), from the general’s ranch.
make it to an Army hospital, after the mayhem they created
in their getaway, where they acquire the services of insane
pilot, Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharlto
Copley). Taking flight in an old medical chopper, all four
are thrust together in an aerial pursuit that establishes
B.A.’s permanent fear of flying and provides a seemingly
improvised victory. But the cigar-chomping Hannibal always
has a plan and he loves it when comes together so well.
an opening filled with excitement and humor that serves
to establish an origin for this “A-Team” as
well as to connect familiar character beats with these iconic
roles. They realize that each of them are former U.S. Army
Rangers, further solidifying their bond despite the deliberate
antagonism between them.
story jumps ”eight years and eighty successful missions
later” with the team, stationed in Iraq, now a highly-valued
resource to the U.S. military. The four men are taking it
easy, riding out the end of the war when C.I.A. treasury
agent Lynch (the wonderfully smarmy Patrick Wilson) and
Dept. of Defense Capt. Charissa Sosa (Jessical Biel) separately
inform them of some recently stolen counterfeit U.S. plates
tempts them into nabbing them while Sosa (Face’s former
flame) warns them to back off. Of course, both know the
team won’t resist the urge to retrieve the plates,
and despite the disapproval of Hannibal’s commanding
officer, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney, no stranger to
80's material), they successfully steal the plates.
this blows up in their faces, literally, as we see the team
betrayed and framed, stripped of rank, dishonorably discharged
and sentenced to four separate prisons in the States. Six
months later, an imprisoned Hannibal is once again approached
by Lynch to get the plates back. It appears a dirty black-ops
soldier named Pike (co-writer Brian Bloom) may have them,
possibly trying to sell them to the highest bidder. Being
the resourceful man he is, Hannibal is already on to Pike
and makes a deal to clear himself and his team once the
mission is completed.
four creative and humorous prison escapes, the team is back
together, seeking to clear their names while methodically
planning out their mission. These escapes enrage Sosa who
tracks their movement, realizing no matter what situation
the A-Team is in, they are always two steps ahead with a
plan in play. As the multiple pursuits progress, more corruption
is revealed amid various deals and schemes, followed by
a succession of inevitable explosions and shootouts as both
sides try to outwit each other.
(“Narc” and “Smokin’ Aces”)
directs a movie that is far from camp but it does partake
of some outrageous situations and injected hilarity. He
gives these elements and the required testosterone a hard
lather while allowing the four characters enough needed
moments to establish why they are perfect for each other.
the show, Murdock can often diffuse B.A. while the overly-prepared
Hannibal often balks at Face’s spontaneity. It’s
the kind of back and forth used to solidify what keeps these
guys together, something Carnahan knows is needed as well
as a nod to fans of the show.
the script fumbles when it tries to be somewhat melodramatic
at times, it still knows went to increase the ridiculous,
like when the guys escape a exploded cargo plane in a parachuting
tank. It’s a gleefully preposterous sequence that
screams summer action, loud and clear. That’s ultimately
what we’re given here, an adaptation that is more
brazen, ballsy and bigger than the show ever was.
what of the cast, that is required to embody such popular
roles? What do they do with characters that twenty-five
years ago were on T-shirts, lunch boxes and Trapper Keepers?
They have fun, that’s what they do and as well they
should. I was afraid that Neeson, a fine actor who is on
the verge of becoming over-exposed, would be just downright
silly after seeing trailer footage. But right from his introduction,
his charisma is confidently clear as he growls his way as
the mindful leader who always looks out for his men.
hits all the right notes with his handsome smirk, effortless
charm and playful mischief masking how capable he is as
a soldier and potential leader. It also helps that his scenes
with Biel exude just the right required chemistry. It also
doesn’t hurt that Biel continues to rise above the
rest of the Jessicas working today. With Sosa turning out
to be more than just “brass in pursuit”, it
helps that Biel is given more to do than just add some estrogen
to the game.
has the most difficult task as B.A. He’s no fool but
I pity anyone who has to follow the charisma and essence
of Mr. T. Wisely, his character is toned down a bit, allowing
his mere presence (muscles, mohawk and PITY and FOOL tattooed
on each fist) to fill the role. At times, he mumbles through
his lines but I honestly wasn’t expecting to be moved
by his acting chops.
expecting District 9 star, Sharlto Copley, to nail
his madcap role and boy does he ever. He has to not only
deliver some of the most hilarious bits but he has to do
so in a way that the audience will question his sanity while
believing in his capabilities. He proved to be the most
entertaining bit of casting the movie has to offer.
impossible to please the naysayers or fans in casting a
movie like this, but I find it hard to believe that anyone
can balk at this solid cast. All four actors clearly have
a good time with their roles….and who wouldn’t?
I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else who would
do any better and considering the actors that were being
looked at for these roles, just be grateful. Those aforementioned
fans should stay in their seats for a fun post end-credit
tween when the successful NBC show aired, the gung-ho nature
appealed to me yet I can’t say I tuned in weekly.
Like this movie, the show was fun for guaranteed action
and laughs but that’s about it. It bolstered cartoonish
bravado and manly camaraderie, something viewers my age
or older ate up back then and should fully expect to see
here, albeit on a larger scale. The film ends with set-up
for anticipated sequels, as we’re told, “If
you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you
can find them…”, followed by the familiar theme
song. That sounds like a plan I could easily get behind.
review also appears on David's own site,