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Movie Review: The A-Team

June 11, 2010
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I’ve got three words for you. Big. Dumb. Fun.  Isn’t that the way we like our summer fare here in the states?  Apparently a  cohesive plot was sacrificed  in The A-Team so that explosions, fist-fights and implausible technology could abound. Yet somehow, as mindless entertainment, it kind of works. I won’t lie.  I had fun.

I never watched the 80′s television show that served as the source material for this movie, but being a child of the 80′s, I was aware of it. The theme song, Mr. T, and that infamous opening line (If you have a problem, and you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team!) were ubiquitous on the pop culture landscape back in the day.

The movie begins with an extended  flashback showing how the four A-Team members (all former Army Rangers) became a team.  Now, eight years later, the men are serving in Iraq and are recruited  for a secret mission.  They are to circumvent an armored convoy that will be transporting currency printing plates, and approximately one billion dollars in printed currency.

The Department of Defense gets wind of the operation and bristles, believing that the A-Team has overstepped their authority.  Additionally, some mercenaries for hire unimaginatively named “Black Forest” want a piece of the action.

Against all odds, the team pulls it off, but the mission takes an unfortunate turn, and the four are framed for the death of a general, tried in military court, and  imprisoned separately from one another.  With a little help from individuals who shall go unnamed here, they are able to spring out of prison.  They aim to clear their name and find out who was really behind that operation, and why.

Bradley Cooper as "Face" and Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith

Some inspired casting choices make this movie work.  The four principals have great chemistry, and I completely bought that they had worked together for eight years.

I absolutely adored Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith, the leader of the group.  Neeson is a solid, classy actor, and he almost brings an air of regality to Hannibal’s character.  When Neeson is first revealed on screen with that silver fox hair and the A-Team music starts to play in the background, I got a few goose-bumps (I know, I am ashamed of myself, too).

Neeson nimbly handles the physical demands of the film, and I suspect he’ll gain some new fans.  It’s nice to see Neeson cut loose in a goofy, wholly different type of role, and for the ladies who like the older gents, he will likely upstage resident heart-throb Bradley Cooper.

It’s hard to believe Cooper used to play Sydney Bristow’s nerdy pal on Alias.  Now he sports chiseled abs, a golden tan, and a devil-may-care demeanor as  lady-killer “Face”, who is  fully in touch with his female side.  He’s the type of man who gets mani-pedis and isn’t ashamed to admit it. It’s ironic to drop a flaming metro sexual into the action in Bagdad, but it is funny, and Cooper owns the role.

Sharlto Copley (breakout star of last summer’s District 9) plays brilliant-but-deranged pilot Murdock, and from a brief look at some footage from the original show, he appears to do a bang up job.

Mr. T’s replacement, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, humanizes the character of B.A. Baracus, and I thought that was a nice touch.  He also is a lot less gruff than Mr. T. was, although he is every bit as menacing. As a nod to his predecessor, he has “Pity” tattooed on one knuckle, and “Fool” on the other.  Fun trivia fact: Jackson  and Cooper both appeared in the seldom seen Clive Barker cult movie The Midnight Meat Train.

Hollywood once again casts a smoking hot actress in a totally unbelievable role. Jessica Biel plays a Department of Defense officer  who just happens to be the ex of Face.  Patrick Wilson plays a  CIA operative who may or may not be corrupt, Gerald McRaney shows up as a General,  and Brian Bloom (who co-wrote the screenplay) is the head Black Forest baddie.

The action is plentiful, but it is the same type of action I have grown so weary of this year.  It’s frenetic, and you can’t tell anything that is going on during the sequences.  I found myself going over my mental grocery list during some of these protracted  moments.

The end action scene is quite spectacular,  though.  Director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) knows how to do action, he just needs to rein it in  a bit.  Louder is not necessarily better.  The movie is noisy, and filled with too many explosions to count.

The movie is strewn together by a series of ludicrous scenes and situations, there’s not a chance in hell anything in this movie could actually happen. .  If you can’t accept that when you walk into the theater, you will really hate this movie.

Everyone has been clamoring for a popcorn movie this summer.  Order’s up, minus the smarts.

Rating 3/5

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