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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.77%
Worth A Look49.06%
Average: 16.98%
Pretty Bad: 26.42%
Total Crap: 3.77%

6 reviews, 17 user ratings

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A-Team, The
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by Erik Childress

"Just What This Summer Needed"
4 stars

Somewhere in-between the big screen adaptations of Miami Vice and MacGruber lies The A-Team. Not a reference to quality by any means but in tone as would be familiar to any fans of the '80s television series that lasted for five seasons. As live action cartoons go, The A-Team was a perfect gateway drug for young boys to get weened for the onslaught of Stallone and Schwarzenegger guns-a-blazin' vehicles headed thier way. Barely any blood, nobody got seriously hurt (usually) and our heroes always went out on a smile. The temptation for the long-gestating big screen project would be to move the line into either a hardcore serious actioner about disgraced mercenaries or to spoof it a la Starsky & Hutch or Land of the Lost. Suggestion of the latter would be pointless since the show already never took itself too seriously and to go that route would remove the sense of giddy, harmless fun. Thankfully the makers of the film understood that and have delivered a film that captures the tenor of its predecessor with the best of 'em.

In a little stroke of magic, the story begins surprisingly with the chance meeting of our four heroes during a mission gone wrong. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) in an effort to rescue Lt. "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper) runs into Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus (MMA fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) and his trusty van. Baring the tattoos of their fellow Army Rangers, they team up on the run with crafty pilot - and admitted mental patient - Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley) - in a bold escape that sets the climate for the bond between these men. This is not, however, the infamous operation that got them court martialed and on the lam.

That is saved for the next set piece as the foursome conduct an ill-advised plan to steal some counterfeit plates left over during the Iraq war. They are warned to let this one go by Face's former lover, Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel) and by Hannibal's commanding officer, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney), but egged on by their rivalry with Black Ops leader Pike (Brian Bloom) and a CIA agent by the name of Lynch (Patrick Wilson). Hannibal's plan does indeed come together, but he doesn't foresee the doublecross and his team goes to jail. As anyone who tuned in long enough to know the show's opening narration, these guys do escape (again) and attempt to clear their name by finishing the job they started.

Plotwise it is about as thin as any single episode and is unlikely to confuse viewers in the ways many complained about Brian DePalma's exemplary Mission: Impossible, though many of the minor twists (and an appearance by regular covert team heavy, Henry Czerny) will spark memories. Actually, The A-Team is more like a collection of mini-episodes briskly paced from one sequence to the next like a best-of marathon minus the commercials. Any complaints about the story's lankiness or the occasional pretension towards the attitude of violence may be warranted, but one cannot deny that this film doesn't move with a purpose. And that purpose is the same entertainment fans expected week-in and week-out between 1983 & 1987.

Taking itself seriously was never a problem for The A-Team and any attempts to humanize them out of their cartoon character shells could spell a recipe wide-open for criticism. Face's seat-of-the-pants ways conflicts with Hannibal's eight-moves-ahead mentality results in some late-game validation between the two and B.A.'s conversion to pacifist is solidified with some last-minute inspiration from Gandhi of all people. It is still nice to have these little moments of support between them, even if they are unnecessary. The rapport between the actors is so dead-on that there's a natural surge to their lighthearted bickering and it never feels like a forced punchline. Neeson can almost not help but put on a serious face and doesn't quite have the wink in his delivery all the time, but Cooper matches Dirk Benedict's charisma all the way and Rampage does his best Mr. T and the character proud. Sharlto Copley though, coming off a virtuoso debut in last year's District 9, cements his status as a character actor to watch, practically stealing the film as the nutty Murdock.

The A-Team is such a boy's club that it's tribunal convictors could have juste referred to them as an Alpha Male Unit. Face is a natural charmer of anyone that crosses his path and women are oft-referred to as "hot" so to balance it there's a half-hearted, slow-burn relationship between him and Biel's Sossa. Girl power was clearly not on the agenda here otherwise someone may have let the exceptionally toned Biel kick a little butt instead of bridging action sequences with appearances in blouses missing three buttons or just showing up the clean up the mess and looking scared to hold her own gun.

With The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan doesn't so much settle the argument if he would have been right or wrong to helm the third Mission: Impossible film but offer compelling points for both sides to make theirs. After his acclaimed Narc back in 2002 and the creative differences over M:I 3, he returned with Smokin' Aces which might rank just behind Bad Boys II as the most vile piece of hyper-violent cinema to come along in the last decade. What may have worked as gritty realism in the opening foot chase in Narc doesn't always translate to high-concept set pieces and Carnahan shoots too close at times for comfort in the choreography. Not helping matters is an extreme overreliance on the cross-cutting between the making of the plans and their execution. This works fine once, maybe even twice. By the time the finale comes around and Carnahan keeps flashing back to obvious bits of information for the two-percenters we wish at least we were taken seriously enough to remember things that happened ten minutes ago. Thus is the same element though that works with a piece of genuine summer fluff like The A-Team. Keep the machine moving, don't think too hard, never bore us and do it with enough skill or fun so that audiences now can go out on a smile too.

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originally posted: 06/11/10 15:00:00
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User Comments

12/17/18 Ajpwales Awful movie. I hate it. 1 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell silly but energetic & fun 4 stars
11/05/15 David Hollingsworth Just see it for Bradley Cooper 2 stars
8/24/14 Charles Tatum Mediocre reboot of an awful TV show 3 stars
3/22/11 KingNeutron Very silly, but enjoyable - and pretty much true to the Original Show 4 stars
1/05/11 millersxing A whole heap of crazy-quilt ideas...written by the B-team. 4 stars
1/02/11 mr.mike Muddled , but funny and faithful to the series. 4 stars
12/20/10 action movie fan potentially godd but way too much comedy and sillyness to make it truly effective 3 stars
8/03/10 Arcane Hell Ya!!! Entertainment all the way! 5 stars
7/24/10 bagwell5 An entertaining summer film. Unrealistic, but so was the show. Good performances as well 4 stars
7/08/10 damalc this is what i want from a summer action movie 4 stars
6/22/10 R.W. Welch Overdone. 3 stars
6/22/10 christy spires This movie was worth $10 dollars to see in the theater!! action packed awesomeness!! 5 stars
6/14/10 David A. Hannibal and BA kick ass; Murdock's funny but not cool like he was in the tv show. 4 stars
6/13/10 Vlad the Criticizer Well, at least we agree it was DUMB 1 stars
6/13/10 Impossible Man Dumb yet fun!!! 4 stars
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  11-Jun-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2010

  30-Jul-2010 (12A)

  10-Jun-2010 (M)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2010

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