Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The A-Team (2010) Review

The A-Team
Time for Plan B

Now I’ve watched a couple episodes of the old A-Team TV series from the 80s back in the day, but if you ask me to remember any knowledge beyond the titular A-Team characters and the general idea behind the show, well then you’re shit out of luck. None of what I saw was memorable, but the show conjured up a surefire concoction of escapist action and cartoon characters to provide a good time in short spurts (i.e. TV episodes). I’m not a fan and I’m not completely out of the loop, but I feel I know enough to provide some context for this new movie adaptation (sort of like with Watchmen). And you know what? For all intents and purposes this updated version captures the playful tone and over-the-top feel of the show very well, but does that really mean that it translates from 40-minute intervals to a two-hour clocker particularly well?

Plot Synopsis: After a prologue explaining how the four Army soldiers Hannibal Smith, B.A. Baracus, Faceman Peck, and “Mad” Murdock met and became friends, the story cuts to eight years later where they are now in the same unit and serving in Iraq. They are then sent on a mission where they must recover $100 bill plates from a nearby Iraqi city, but they are then subsequently betrayed and framed for murder by a firm called Black Forest led by the A-Team’s rival Brock Pike. While in prison, Hannibal strikes a deal with C.I.A. agent Lynch that will help them escape and clean their records if they recover the plates back. Hannibal agrees, seeing the mission both as a way of clearing their names and getting revenge on Pike.


To answer my previous question from above…only for so long. Which translates pretty much into a “no.” From beginning to end this movie is action, action, action and it doesn’t give up. Now for the first hour or so I was still in the “dumb, but really entertained” mindset, but once the absolutely ridiculous tank fall scene occurred I just lost interest. And by the time the final battle was starting I was actually bored with it. That’s not to the say the action isn’t any good, on the contrary many of these scenes were very cool as we watch Hannibal’s seemingly absurd schemes play out with skilled precision. In fact, every one of them with the exception of some badly edited hand-to-hand scenes and the aforementioned tank scene were winners. Except the rapid pace in which they succeed each other is more akin for a 90 minute movie, not one approaching two hours.


What saves the movie from the scrap heap is the great chemistry between our four heroes, who play off each other wonderfully despite having completely different personalities. Liam Neeson chomps down onto his role as Hannibal with scenery-chewing glee, doing George Peppard good service. As we know from Taken, Neeson can handle the action scenes just as well as anyone half his age and brings with him a nice grizzled edge. Bradley Cooper effortlessly embodies Faceman’s smooth charm, and him and Jessica Biel (Sosa) have a funny rapport together. Biel’s only real service in the movie is to provide some female eye candy, but then again I’m not complaining. Coming off his strong debut in District 9, Sharlto Copley (Murdock) can now say he’s a jack-of-all-trades and displays some crack comic timing with his characters “mad” ticks and snappy one-liners. Now I was on-the-fence when Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was chosen as the successor to Mr. T as B.A. Baracus, and I think I’m still somewhere in the middle. While he experiences the mumble-mouth when asked do more dramatic scenes, Jackson has some memorable moments.

Things trip up more on the villain side of things. Brian Bloom (who also had co-writing duties) blandly sneers his way through the picture as Pike, who is essentially non-existent for the entire middle act. Seriously, I almost forgot he was in the movie. And while the Lynch character doesn’t give Patrick Wilson much to work with, it’s to his credit as an actor that he looks like he’s having a hell of a time doing the best he can with limited material. In fact, Wilson’s performance perfectly sums up what The A-Team movie has to offer. It’s entirely forgettable and nothing very special, but it gets the job done with aplomb and a fun-loving attitude, even if the fun begins to wear off after a while.


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