Movie Review: The A-Team

When I heard that Joe Carnahan was directing a film version of The A-Team, I was kind of curious. He hasn't directed much and the only thing I've seen of his is Smokin' Aces, which was a fun and ridiculously over-the-top movie filled with, well, shooting stuff up. I went in to Smokin' Aces with low expectations and found myself entertained. Sometimes you don't want a movie with lots of, you know, plot or thinking. You just want to see shit blow up real good.

The A-Team I remembered from the '80s has stuff blowing up and guns, but nobody ever got seriously hurt. It was more likely that tires would get shot out and then a fistfight would break out. It also had Mr. T in overalls. But, of course, this being a big summer action flick, everything's going to get amped up to extreme action.

The film is basically the origin story of The A-Team. In the opening credits, they talked about how the team was accused of a crime that they didn't commit, and how they escaped before trial to become fugitives who are now nice mercenaries hiding in L.A. In the original TV pilot, they talk about the crime being related to a secret mission that couldn't be proven because the General who allegedly sent them was killed and an Army man named Lynch is out to capture them. In the film, they're no longer Vietnam vets, they're Iraqi War vets, and the film goes into how the team met up, the crime they didn't commit, their escape from prison, and all that jazz. So in that respect, it was a nice nod to the original show. And, if you stay through the credits, there's a little something at the end that fans will enjoy.

As for the cast, I think I really like the new, ass-kicking, Liam Neeson of Taken. He's got a lot of charisma in the role and he's fun to watch. It's kind of creepy how much he resembles George Peppard as "Hannibal." I mean, it's pretty dead on. And he really does like it when a plan comes together.

Bradley Cooper is "Face" and he's really, really tan and ripped. I know this because he gets to not wear a shirt on more than few occasions. I wholeheartedly approve because Bradley Cooper is really very hot. I thought his portrayal was too manic and over the top. I kind of wanted him to take a Valium at some point.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson held up as Bosco "B.A." Baracus. I was leery as it's hard to beat the awesomeness that is Mr. T but Quinton was not bad. They kept his black and red GMC van and they kept (and explained) his fear of flying so that was alright too. They even explained his mohawk which I thought was a nice touch. And while he didn't say he pitied any fools, they did give him a kind of funny homage to the famous Mr. T catch phrase.

Sharlto Copley (Wikus from District 9) was, in my opinion, the best part of the film. He played the role of "Howling Mad" Murdock with joy and gusto. Dude has serious charisma and I hope he gets more work. I've read a few interviews with him over the months and he's said that he was a HUGE fan of The A-Team as a kid and it showed. Scenes with Murdock were the best in the film.

Jessica Biel is pretty hot. She's got some decent chemistry with Bradley Cooper and she runs with the boys just fine. I'm actually always surprised we don't see more Jessica Biel on the big screen.

Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl from Watchmen) is Lynch, the shady man from the CIA who might be a friend, might be a foe. He is another person that I'm surprised we don't see more of on screen. I thought he was totally watchable in his rather pompous, smarmy take on Lynch.

As for the action, the sequences are ridiculous. I mean, at one point they're falling out of a plane in a tank and trying to "fly" it. But, you know, the audience dug it. Heard lots of laughter, "DUDE, THAT WAS AWESOME", and the film got a genuine round of applause at the end.

So... if you're looking for a big, over-the-top, summer action popcorn movie, I'd say you will enjoy The A-Team. It's funny and ridiculous and shit blows up real good. Does the plot always make sense? Heck no! But it doesn't take itself seriously and everyone in our theater left laughing and singing the theme song.

If you've got a hankering for the original The A-Team, Netflix Instant has seasons available for you to watch online (or through your X-Box/Wii/PS3). I watched the two-part pilot and first episode today and it was good stuff. By the way, I did not remember that the two-part pilot had a different guy playing the role of "Face."


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