The A-Team

Posted on December 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I love it when a plan comes together.

And I love it when a summer movie delivers all of the chases, crashes, explosions, wisecracks, and sheer exuberant fun that we have a right to expect when the weather gets warm. “The A-Team,” based on the television series of the mid-1980’s, may be silly but it is purely enjoyable.

We get to see how the fearsome foursome first met. That’s Hannibal (Liam Neeson), the cigar-chomping leader, driver and fighting powerhouse B.A. Baracus (Ultimate Fighting Champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson), mentally unstable pilot Murdock (District 9‘s Sharlto Copley), and social engineer (okay, con man) Face (Bradley Cooper). As frustrated Lt. Sosa (Jessica Biel) says, eight years and 80 successful missions later, they specialize in the ridiculous. Characters hang from a helicopter. They slalom down a skyscraper. They crash many vehicles and they blow many things up. This is a movie with a flying tank. Well, technically, as one character says, not flying. It’s actually hurtling to the ground after the plane that was carrying it exploded. Why? Could that really work? Don’t ask. This is not that kind of movie. Just pass the popcorn.

There are some understated shout-outs to the original, including a clever disposition of the beloved van and BA’s knuckle tattoos — “PITY” on one hand and “FOOL” on the other. And be sure to stay to the very end of the credits for one last salute.

After the prologue, we are brought up to date. Our team has completed 80 missions in eight years, all successful. Now, American troops are packing up to leave Iraq. One piece of unfinished business is a briefcase filled with engraving plates for U.S. currency. If they get into the wrong hands, our enemies could print money and destroy our economy. And there are a lot of wrong hands out there, possibly including the mercenaries/government contractors who think they’re all that and who are assigned to the retrieval operation.

This provides opportunities for many stunts, ably directed by Joe Carnahan, who co-wrote. Co-screenwriter Brian Bloom is electrifying as Pike, the leader of the contractor team. Biel does her job: fuming or melting, she is very pretty. And the quartet of actors in the lead roles are an A-Team of their own, bringing their own screen chemistry and sense of fun to the characters they play. Neeson chomps on his cigar with panache. Copley makes Murdoch’s proficiency with accents and languages both evidence of his instability and his mastery. Jackson makes BA’s soul-searching feel real without throwing the entire movie off-kilter by making it too serious. Early on, when Face gets punched in the jaw, Cooper’s eyes widen in delight and he says, “Now it’s a party!” Yes, it is.

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Action/Adventure Based on a television show Remake

11 Replies to “The A-Team”

  1. Happy Friday, Nell! I’ll probably wait for Netflix, but this looks fun. Occasionally I watch “A-Team” reruns of the original series on the RTN network, and love the fact that there are explosions, but no one gets blown up (only thrown into the air). There is no actual violence, more like cartoon violence with no real world consequences. But, given the amount of violence in movies and TV today, I find that kind of refreshing.
    Glad to see that Liam Neeson is out there working. I’m sure he’s still devastated about his wife’s death.

  2. This is one of the few movies I’m really excited about this summer. For once, we get an “homage” film to an old 80s TV series that looks like it might actually be good, unlike the usual drivel like Dukes of Hazzard or Land of the Lost. And in the ads, it looks as if the team will actually do the one thing that seems to make perfect sense but for some strange reason never crossed their minds in the series, and that is to try to clear their own names for the crime they didn’t commit.

  3. This is a perfect example that if a product is excellent,the legacy lives on. The A-Team was a mixture of violence and comedy that was very entertaining to watch every week.

  4. Thanks Nell for keeping it real and reviewing the “fun” of these movies based on a kid’s/family’s perspective. I have read other reviews dissing the “lack of storyline” etc., come on, that is not what we are looking for when we take our kids to something like this! Just needed to know if it was some good fun for them. thanks for keeping it real and for your timely reviews as well, great to get your opinion on opening day for big flicks like this…

  5. I am not planning to see the A-Team movie at all. The trailer looks a mess and totally over the top in a really bad way!
    Here’s a great piece, written by a TV producer, with an interesting slant on why the signs don’t look good for the big screen A Team movie… and why the trailer highlights all that’s currently wrong with Hollywood today

  6. Thanks to everyone who wrote comments about “The A-Team!” I actually agree with all of you. Like Dave and Bruce, I am up for a summer crashes and explosions action film that lives up to the legacy of the show. As my review shows, I enjoyed the film very much — I plan to see it again. But I understand Alicia’s decision to wait for DVD and enjoyed RoggieP’s link to RemotePatrolled. Yes, the tank falling out of the exploding plane is crazy. But it was the kind of craziness that I like!

  7. I enjoyed this movie so much! Sure, you could drive that falling tank through some of the plot holes, and the action was over the top, but that’s what summer movies should be about! I admit I was hesitant going into this. We’ve been working our way through Season 1 of the original A-team. I was sure Bradley Cooper could pull off Face, but I wasn’t sold on the others, although I’m a huge Liam Neeson fan and loved Sharlto Copley in District 9. But who could ever compare with Mr. T’s combination of tough guy with a smile that makes you want to hug him?
    My 12 year old wasn’t sold on Liam Neeson, and granted he plays it more seriously than George Peppard did. I thought he was great, but the biggest surprises were Quentin Jackson and Sharlto Copley. Jackson did a good job of reworking BA rather than imitating. And Copley was amazing!
    Yeah, it’s brought up to date, which means people die, rather than climbing out of cars that flipped 10 times. But the violence isn’t near as bad as many other movies, and it’s still all about the plan.
    Not sure how comfortable I am with the resolution of BA’s moral dilemma though.
    For anyone wanting a mindless fun summer movie, this is a must-see. I can’t wait for them to make some sequels!

  8. Thanks for this excellent review. It’s right on…the movie was safe for my older kids to watch, most definitely. The action was non stop but foul language was kept to a minimum. Will buy this one…Nell, thank you!

  9. The A-team movie was ok, even with a more modern storyline, however
    it was difficult to connect with these actors. Where was the
    humor and the more clean cut “Face?” Face does not have a dirty
    mouth! He is also clean shaven! Murdock and B.A. were ok.
    Hannabel I’m not sure. I guess if I were to pick my own modern
    A-team, I would choose Steve Martin as Hannabel, Jim Carry as
    Murdock, Shaq O’Neil as B.A., and I cannot think of a Face right

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