The A Team – A Review

17 06 2010

I remember first hearing about Joe Carnahan doing a movie-length version of the classic 80s television show, The A-Team, and thinking ‘Dear God, No!’ .  Growing in up that era, there are some things that I had hoped would remain sacred; particularly that the fashion would never rear its head again (at least not seriously), and that certain shows like The A-Team would be left forever as a fond memory of my childhood.  But alas, there are a great number of television show-come feature film that left much to be desired – AEon Flux, The Brady Bunch, Scooby Doo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to name but a few – so you could understand my cautious optimism heading into this one.

 Well, prepare to be blown away!  (I couldn’t help this pun, I’m sorry.) 

The story has had a refresh (largely for the benefit of what are sure to be ‘younger viewers’) and looks at four Iraq War veterans, trying to clear their name with the United States Military after being framed for a mission gone wrong.  We are introduced to Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith (Liam Neeson), Lieutenant Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck (Bradley Cooper), Captain ‘Howlin Mad’ Murdock (Sharlto Copley) and Sergeant BA Baracus (Quinton Jackson).

As one would expect, not even being stripped of their defence ranking, split up and sent to separate prisons is going to stop them from going after those truly responsible for their demise.  So begins the action.  We’re treated to over-the-top shoot outs, unrealistic explosions, and some downright cheesy fight scenes.  But in not being convincing, it stays true to the television series; it’s not meant to be.  It is entertaining.

I had my reservations about the cast, especially Jackson who had this as his first major film role, but they all seem to have worked.  For those who hold the television series dear to their hearts, Neeson comes off more aggressive and robust than his original counterpart George Peppard, and yet there is something undeniably ‘spot on’ about his character.  Hot off the success of The Hangover is Cooper, who – and it pains me to say this – has Face’s charm and arrogance down pat.  Copley (you may remember him from District 9) is this film’s comic relief and in all honesty the movie’s main player, adding his own flair to the fearless antics of Murdock.  Fortunately, there is no one who could be as intimidating or imposing as Mr T when he played BA in the television series, and I pity the fool who tries.  (Sorry, sorry, another pun.)  Jackson does well, but he’s not exactly scary.

Jessica Biel as agent Charisa Sosa is really nothing more than the film’s eye candy. Biel, Patrick Wilson as CIA agent Lynch and Gerald McRaney (wasn’t he in the television series??) as General Russell Morrison make solid support actors.  There is some clever dialog that occasionally tries to hard  to be humorous, but really this film is all about the over-blown action, and it’s served up thick and fast.

Overall, The A-Team is a no-brains bundle of fun.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5

Directed by Joe Carnahan; written by Joe Carnahan,  Brian Bloom and Skip Woods in collaboration with Frank Lupo and  Stephen J Cannell; director of photography, Mauro Fiore; editor, Roger Barton and Jim May; music by David Bifano; production designer, Charles Wood; produced by Stephen J Cannell, Jules Daly, Tony Scott, Spike Seldin, Iain Smith and Alex Young; released by Twentieth Century Fox, Dune Entertainment and Stephen J Cannell Productions.  Running time 2hrs.

WITH: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copely, Patrick Wilson, Gerald McRaney, Henry Czerny, Yul Vazquez, Brian Bloom, Maury Sterling, Terry Chen, Omari Hardwick, David Hugghins and Jacob Blair.

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