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274 out of 354 people found the following review useful:
The best film you could ask for from an "A-Team" adaptation, 8 June 2010
Author: Rick Gershman from Denver, CO
If any film demands to be graded on a curve, it's The A-Team.
Simply consider the notion of making a big-budget summer movie from of one of the cheesiest television shows of a cheesy TV era.
It's a crafty plan to lower your expectations. As long the movie isn't two hours of punching grandmothers and kicking puppies, you're likely to leave the theater saying, "That was better than I expected."
Guess what? It works like a charm.
The A-Team, against all odds, is one extremely entertaining film. It puts pedal to metal about 90 seconds in and never lets up. That's also savvy because it's also kind of a mess that would collapse under its own weight if it slowed down for more than two minutes.
Director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces, Narc) isn't taking that chance. Action scenes come flying at you hard and heavy from start to finish. The results are mixed: Some sequences are choppy and confusing, others thrilling. But like a comedy that never stops pitching jokes, content if only half of them stick, The A-Team pitches action, action, action, with a side of action and a little action to wash it down.
The plot follows the general concept of the TV series with a few tweaks. A (very) lengthy credits sequence set in Mexico shows us how the team of former Army Rangers comes together: Leader John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson), his right-hand man Templeton "Face" Peck (Bradley Cooper), powerful Bosco "B.A." Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) and loony pilot James "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley).
We jump ahead several years, where the A-Team is now an Army covert operations crew with dozens of successful missions under their belts. But when they're set up for a fall by a variety of villainous forces, the boys have to break out of jail and fight to clear their names.
That's pretty much all you wanted to know about the plot, right? Because it gets pretty confusing from there and doesn't matter in the slightest anyway. It's only there to support that's right action.
Before I tell you why A-Team is worth your hard-earned cash, I should lay out its many faults.
Though Carnahan directed, it's not surprising to see director Tony Scott was one of the producers. Too many scenes evince Scott's "look" the camera shoved in way too tight on the actors, so you can't tell what the hell's going on in fight scenes or big gun battles.
The special effects are wildly uneven too, especially in the climax. It looks like the usual Hollywood problem of the CGI being "just good enough" to make a locked-in release date. This time, it's nowhere near good enough.
But then, The A-Team is a nitpicker's dream, if you really want to go there. Jessica Biel's casting seems like an inside joke "we're not taking this seriously, and neither should you, so let's cast a gorgeous but astonishingly wooden actor in this role."
Maybe you're wondering whether she's really that bad. Look at it this way: This is the first major film role for "Rampage" Jackson, an MMA fighter. He's not great, but he's not too bad and that's high praise for a non-actor stepping into the iconic role. Yet he's a good bit more believable than Biel.
So with those issues, what makes The A-Team so entertaining? The rest of the cast, actually. If you can look past Biel (actually, look right at her, that's what she's there for), the film is jam-packed with colorful, charismatic performances.
Neeson seems a bit odd at first stepping into George Peppard's shoes as Hannibal, being considerably taller, leaner and tougher. But that's appropriate for the movie, which is basically the TV show on (lots and lots of) steroids. No attempt is made to explain his Irish accent, nor that of Copley, who is South African. It doesn't matter: Somehow in this film, it works.
But the film decides early on to focus on Cooper, hot off his success in The Hangover, and it's the right choice. You'd never have guessed the guy who played eighth fiddle on Alias would be front-and-center for a star-making performance, but it's true.
The A-Team shows off Cooper's buffed-up physique almost to the point of absurdity he's shirtless on screen more than Mark Wahlberg in Date Night but Cooper's charisma carries the day throughout.
A well-rounded supporting cast also delivers. Patrick Wilson and Brian Bloom, as potentially shady characters related to the A-Team's troubles, steal every scene they're in. (It probably doesn't hurt that Bloom, a veteran actor mostly relegated to TV work, gets co-writing credit.) Their wonderfully brash characters bring welcome levity to the pounding machine of gunfights and explosions that propels The A-Team.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't note the drinking game that by all rights should be born from this film: Drink whenever a guy with icy blue eyes is on screen. You'd pass out halfway through the film.
There's Cooper and Neeson alone, plus Bloom and Wilson, with a little Gerald McRaney yes, Major Dad himself thrown in for good measure.
If you're really into dudes with bright blue eyes, The A-Team is like porn. If you're into nonstop action and lots of male bonding, The A-Team is like porn. If you're into deep, fully-realized female characters well, look elsewhere.
But if you had to ask me what I would want a big-screen take on a really silly TV show to be, The A-Team more than fits the bill. It's ridiculous, sure. But it's also a ridiculous amount of fun.
200 out of 274 people found the following review useful:
The A-Team in 1,000 words: overkill is underrated, 8 June 2010
Author: Robert_Nijman from Netherlands
Overkill is underrated. One of the many mottoes Colonel John Hannibal
Smith throws around whilst hatching his brilliant plans, dispensing
them like his insightful wisdom increases the chances of success. A
motto director Joe Carnahan has taken to heart in making 'The A-Team'.
A smart move, as complete and uncompromising exaggeration appears to be
exactly what the format asked for. Especially since the translation of
TV shows to the big screen has proved to be no easy task. Just look at
'Miami Vice', which pretty much bombed despite the presence of Michael
Mann, the director/producer who created the original series. Or the
near criminal trashing überhobbyist MacGuyver recently received by the
hands of questionable farce 'MacGruber'. In a world so significantly
different from the mid-eighties, the severely underpaid and hopelessly
dated missions of the four fugitives could have very much been out of
place as well.
The reincarnation by the hands of Carnahan however, avoids many of the pitfalls that the outdated format has to offer. For one, the director has brought the well known premise of the series to the present. Vietnam has been replaced by Iraq and the bad attitude of Bosco Baracus is not the only thing that makes the foursome dangerous: the happy-go-lucky stance of a team that rarely asked for enemy casualties has been replaced by an attitude that better suits a group of elite soldiers. What is especially striking is how well the cast handle their roles, and how much fun they have doing so. Understandable, since the characters in Carnahan's installment have been blown up as well. Hannibal in the hands of Liam Neeson, although not as charismatic as George Peppard, is equally complacently on the jazz whenever a dangerous situation can be even remotely relished. Templeton "Faceman" Peck in the version of Bradley Cooper enjoys the swindling of both women and all sorts of tools even more than his predecessor Dirk Benedict and the script provides Quinton "Rampage" Jackson with a philosophical depth to his distinctive character - and evolution thereof - in the BA 2.0 version. The acting skills of the professional wrestler are up for debate, but then again you never questioned Mr. T. either. Even though he played the bejeweled, Mohawk sporting powerhouse with an acute fear of flying as an overly enthusiastic pupil in a school musical, always staring at the next person to speak his lines way long before they had the floor. The biggest fun, however, comes from Howling Mad Murdock in the interpretation of 'District 9'-phenomenon Sharlto Copley, who occupies the crazy pilot with both a zest for life and an absolute fearlessness of death cue the suicidal midair antics. His inimitable flying skills, Murdockian features (sock puppets and his interaction with BA for example) and especially his imitation of Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart' - including stick horse - make him the movies' main asset.
The script then. The plot, pretty much a side issue, continuously serves up action excesses equally incredible and entertaining but yields more than a whipped episode of the series stretched to a playing time of two hours. You could say the plot is kind of a cross section of the five years the series ran, if you omit the recurring missions the mercenaries entered into. There is plenty of borrowing from existing story lines, more or less adapted to the new universe of Carnahan. The film opens with a spectacular introduction of the four veterans some years ago - only Hannibal and Face are trusted comrades, BA and Murdock have still to cross their paths - setting up the Alpha team that started it all. Included of course, is a supporting role for the black GMC Van, which can impossibly be disregarded as the fifth member. Cut to eight years and eighty successful missions later, to the operation that sees the team become the proverbial scapegoat the series theme credits were based on something to do with a crime they didn't commit. The bank robbery in Hanoi has been replaced by the hijacking of a truckload of counterfeit money in Baghdad, commanding General Morrison is still here. The CIA is present as well, in a possible set-up for a sequel in which Hannibal's outfit will be contracted by the organization in a reference to Stockwell (Robert Vaughn) of the fifth season of the series. The plot is driven by the aftermath of the robbery, offering supporting roles for Captain Charisa Sosa (the distractingly attractive Jessica Biel) and CIA man Lynch (Patrick Wilson, 'Watchmen'), but it's all a mere hook for ridiculous set pieces and extravagant action to be towed on.
Hannibal's crack commando unit must pull out all the stops in order to clear its name, in an adventure that at times offers absolute top entertainment. That is, if you're willing to believe that a parachute suspended tank (as seen in the trailer), wherein the fearless foursome escape from an exploding plane, can be easily maneuvered in midair using the inboard cannon, simultaneously discarding enemy aircraft like it's a game of Duck Hunt. There are enough sequences that ask more than a lot of your ability to shut off your brain, but as said that exaggeration is exactly what this film needed. 'The A-Team' is simply a masterful popcorn spectacle par excellence, offering high-level action entertainment and jokes that are more often than not very decently set up. The cast has great fun working with the pleasantly unlikely adventures and the story is in good tradition - full of references to the 80's hit series it is based on. The plot falters a bit left and right and the credo overkill is underrated is at times perhaps taken a little too far, but that is merely an expected consequence of handing control over to the man behind 'Smokin' Aces'. Regardless, the oncoming release might well feature a well-deserved 'to be continued' by the time the end credits start rolling.
215 out of 317 people found the following review useful:
I love it when a plan comes together! A Simple, short review., 9 June 2010
Author: Carter_KidWonder_Jenkins from Canada
The A-Team is easily one of the best summer movies made (It knows what
it is, and what it isn't - It doesn't try to be anything else), and
some of the most fun I've had at the movies in a long time.
On top of some great action sequences that left people cheering, the crowd also laughed non-stop. Bradly Cooper's comedic timing is excellent!
This one is worth checking out. Bring your friends! They did the show justice, and will introduce a younger generation to a great show. Carnahan put together a great movie, which easily could have gone the way of Starsky & Hutch, or Charlies Angels.
201 out of 293 people found the following review useful:
A film well worth watching, 10 June 2010
Author: Seialeir from Singapore
I just returned from watching this movie, and frankly, I didn't even
know it was a story taken from an earlier series until I wikipedia-ed
it just now. That being said, the expectations and sensitivities in a
fan of the original series is non-existent in me, so this is purely
based on what I felt about the movie itself.
First off, the casting is near perfect. Everyone had a role that they played very well, and while Rampage Jackson's acting could have been a little better, his presence and screen time were downplayed to perhaps make up for it. But that's what I'm talking about, it was a very good balance of characters that was consistently carried throughout the movie. Who really stood out for me was Sharlto Copley. For someone who wasn't professionally trained as an actor, he portrayed the crazy Murdoch flawlessly. I brought my parents to watch the show and they loved his performance, with mom going as far to say the movie worked because everything funny came from him. I have to agree, I was certainly very entertained for the whole duration of the movie largely due to him.
What I didn't particularly like were the computer generated effects. They looked quite fake at times, and it hints at a rushed job by animators. While the first three quarters of the film had a fairly consistent amount of action, the last quarter was overkill. Spoilt the movie a little for me, but the overall experience was a good one. Movies are meant to entertain and I most definitely was, much more than I expected for the price I paid for my ticket. Word of warning though - you really shouldn't think too deeply about the story when you're watching this. There are unresolved plot holes and some people have expressed upset at this, but the film was never marketed as a 'story' kind of film in any way so they really should've known better.
This movie is not for movie buffs who look for the meaning of life in films, but if a hilarious, well-acted, action-packed movie is your thing? I say go watch this now.
Story : Okay
Acting : Ranging from awesome to not bad
Cast dynamics :Brilliant
Hilarity factor : Totally
Special Effects : Acceptable to meh at times
Duration : Long but I didn't feel it
Would watch again : YEAH.
107 out of 144 people found the following review useful:
Overblown, super-exaggerated trash... and I loved every minute, 9 June 2010
Author: ThirtySevenSquared from Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was quite a fan of the A-Team when I was a wee lad, thanks mostly to
cable TV reruns, and I was eagerly anticipating this movie from the
moment I saw the first episode. At no time did I think it wouldn't
Of course, as the years passed, and I grew older and wiser, I came to realise that an A-Team movie might just be a really bad idea. I mean, c'mon, an ex-Army unit that never kills ANYONE? That uses ridiculous plans that frequently broke the laws of logic and physics? Yeah, right.
Fortunately, when this film WAS announced, I couldn't help but feel a little excited. Especially when that cast came forward. And the first trailer had me revved up... and nervous. Could so easily be trash.
Well, it is trash. Trash of the most glorious, overblown, wonderfully-fun kind. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, and with utter acknowledgement of the fact that the most it can aspire to is "A Fun Night Out". The cinematic equivalent to a Big Mac: ridiculously bad for you, and part of you wishes you hadn't, but you still enjoyed the hell out of it anyway.
The cast work well together, and have a pretty good team dynamic. Liam Neeson brings the right combo of gruffness and cool to Hannibal (though a little more humourless than George Peppard), and Bradley Cooper is, well, Bradley Cooper, wise-cracking and entertaining as con-man Face. Though many have spoken ill of Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson as B.A., I thought he was capable enough in a role that required little more of him than snarling watered-down catch-phrases. Of the foursome, the easy stand-out is Sharlto Copley's jittery, crazy-eyed Murdock, who manages to steal the scene whenever the camera lingers on him for more than three seconds. If District 9 marked him as a bright new talent, hopefully this film should make him a star.
Jessica Biel as conflicted agent (and Face's ex) Charisa Sosa, and Patrick Wilson as smug CIA man Lynch, offer some fine support, but really, this film's all about the action. And the action. And the action. Which is served up with a trowel. Most of it's wonderfully-overblown, but in that great "Aw, that was cool" way that was prevalent in the Eighties (though the level of exaggeration which the climax reaches does start to stretch even the most resilient switch-off action fan).
All in all, my best advice is sit back, switch off, and enjoy the ride. It may not be the A-Team you remember, but it's a hell of a lot of brainless fun nonetheless. And we really haven't had that for a while.
112 out of 160 people found the following review useful:
Face, you have nothing to worry about, 11 June 2010
Author: Grann-Bach (Grann-Bach@jubii.dk) from Denmark
I remember first hearing about this. Cautious optimism was among my immediate reactions. Later, I caught a trailer(on that, do not think for a second that you saw all the good stuff, there's plenty they didn't give away). I was still not sure what to think. Then I watched it tonight. I enjoyed every single frame. No, I'm not kidding, this works from the very start and never loses you. I love the show, and this pays a lot of respect to it(at times, a tad much... early on, Neeson's every other line contains the word "plan"), and this not only nails the four characters(who all get an unforgettable introduction each, and several individual heroic moments), it doesn't merely imitate, but builds and slightly reinterprets to update them. They are played rather well; Liam looks like he was born with that cigar in his mouth, Bradley genuinely is charming and suave, Sharlto(from District 9; he reverts to his dialect here and there) comes across as a lunatic without that making us dislike him, and Jackson... well, he looks cool, he's not asked to do anything he can't handle, and he's certainly got more charisma than any other wrestlers on the silver screen(or Vin Diesel). The acting is in general marvelous, and every role is well-cast. Everybody is a bad-ass in this(on/off at least), and that does get old every now and then. Biel is largely eye-candy(as is all other females in this), though we know that she can do this kind of thing, and she doesn't let us down. The dialog wants to be as clever and full of banter as 2008's Iron Man, and this leads to it trying too hard some(with that said, two thirds of it works perfectly, and it's not a complete buzz-kill when it doesn't). It is hilarious a lot of the time, and the half-full theater I was in all clearly got a kick out of it. This is two hours of pure fun with non-stop, awesome action that doesn't repeat itself, with shoot-outs, chases and fights. It's not realistic, and it's not meant to be. The plans are *brilliant* and seeing them gather materials for them is a blast. This keeps to an immensely fast pace, without overwhelming us, and it fits in plenty of well-thought out plot(that doesn't confuse, in spite of twists and such, that hold up). The script is by the guy who did Wolverine, Swordfish and Hit-man and a rookie; however, maybe because of help from the director(who I've only seen one other thing by, his outstanding The Hire short), they turn in something magnificent. FX are plentiful(occasionally overshadowing the people... be careful, Carnahan), and excellent with a few brief poor bits. The editing is tight, cinematography stylish. While it's black and white, switch-off-your-brain-at-the-door, Hollywood popcorn flick, it doesn't claim or attempt to be anything else, and it's an utterly well-made and re-watchable one at that. There is a little strong language and brutality to the violence in this(no blood). I recommend this to fans of the television series who don't have impossible-to-reach expectations, and everyone who can get into a movie that just entertains you for a solid 120 minutes. 8/10
119 out of 180 people found the following review useful:
The A-Team: a very good B-movie, 10 June 2010
Author: samvanraalte from Netherlands
If you are looking for a light, funny and action packed movie, it
doesn't get much better than this. The A-Team is very, very easy too
take in, but never boring, has action-scenes that will blow you out of
your seat and is stuffed with plenty of damn funny moments.
Also very nice for a change: this action/comedy film doesn't take itself too seriously. Which is quite refreshing if you take a look at all the 'comedy with a message' crap Hollywood produces these days.
The new B.A. (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson), Murdock (Sharlto Copley), Hannibal (Liam Neeson) and Face (Bradley Cooper) are all great at their roles. Props for Patrick Wilson as the slick C.I.A. agent Lynch and Jessica Biel is lovely as always. Joe Carnahan, who wrote and directed this movie, simply did a great job and gives the audience exactly what it needs.
I'd say it was definitely worth my money.
90 out of 129 people found the following review useful:
A+Team, 21 June 2010
Author: Mash-the-stampede from New Zealand
Being a fan of the 80's television series as a child, naturally I was
pretty excited 3 or 4 years ago when i heard about a possible 'A-Team'
feature film. Back then, I believe the rumoured cast included Bruce
Willis and possibly Jim Carrey??? The years went by until about a year
ago I saw a picture of the current A-team cast in "EMPIRE"
magazine....what - no Mr T????? OUTRAGE!!!
I was disappointed in the least and my eagerness and enthusiasm for an "up-dated' version of a beloved classic jumped out the window and died! Then, 2010 roles upon us and the trailers for the film hit the internet and cinemas but still - it didn't grab me. It looked tacky, un-original(well it's Hollywood and a re-make so it still kind of is), with totally over-the-top and overblown Micheal Bay-style action sequences and not a single trace of any whit or plot visible!
If it was not for my Dad (also an avid fan of the show) offering to pay for me, I probably would not have bothered seeing the film. Well...not at the cinemas anyway.
We watched the film last night and i have to say, it was definitely better than I was expecting. It was actually and surprisingly very good! I was fearing all my fond memories of my favourite characters such as 'B.A. Barachus' and 'Mad Murdoch' would be spat on and watered-down into ironic cliché versions of what they originally were - instead, I was treated to a clever and accurate modernisation of one of the best T.V. shows of the 80's!
The main concept for A-team to work is all about a successful interpretation of the characters. If the characters aren't right - the film will fall flat and will only be branded as A-team by name alone, nothing more than a cash-in on the name. Fortunetly the characters, although played by different actors - are successfully updated and portrayed and still somehow feel the same as the originals with the humour and witty dialogue still there in spades!
The cast did a fine job in their respective roles especially South African actor Sharlto Copley as 'Howling mad Murdoch'! He was hilarious and out of all the cast - resembled his 80's counterpart most accurately in his appearance. Quinton Jackson, although not quite Mr T - still managed to portray a descent portrayal of 'B.A' and although I don't recall him saying his famous catch-phrase more than once, he made up for it with his witty tattoos! I thoroughly enjoyed the back-story to his fear of flying!!!
The action scenes (as obvious from the trailers) are pretty big and impressive which is normal by today's standards. Lot's of explosions, gun/fist fights and airplane chases a-plenty fill the plot (yes...there is actually a plot) in nicely. None of the action sequences are drawn out too long and although some of the scenes suffer a bit from a little too much CGI, shaky-cam and quick cuts making visibility difficult and a bit muddled, still doesn't take away from the film's overall entertainment value.
The plot is not overly complicated but it IS there and it is not completely dumbed-down and insulting to the viewers intellect. A perfect balance of action, story and humour make A-team a brilliant and successful up-dated film adaption that successfully brings The A-team into the new millennium yet doesn't tread over the original.
Thankfully the best bits aren't shown in the trailers and the film is most deserving of at least one more sequel!
I pity the fool who doesn't enjoy this film!
38 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
Fun , entertainment , comedy and noisy action with the nostalgic team, 21 August 2010
Amusing return to the classic series created by Stephen J Cannell ,
also here as producer along with Ridley Scott , with an appropriate
cast and overwhelming C.G. special effects . Excellent homage to the
entertaining episodes with a complex intrigue but following the canon
and overemphasis on usual characterization and special effects . A new
entry of the mythical series of ¨A Team¨ , this time written and
directed by Joe Carnahan , the creator of the successful film titled
"Smokin's aces" and many others ; here is developed the first meeting
between Annibal Smith , and his pals . While on the lam, they became
heroes for hire, working as good-guy vigilantes around the US or the
world . At the end of their stint in Irak Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (
Liam Neeson in the role of the deceased George Peppard) and his team
were framed for stealing some plates (which they had done, but under
orders). The operative group is sent on an assignment to recover plates
for printing 100 dollar bills that were utilized to print a billion
dollars. After making the mission and returning to the base their
commanding General (Gerald McRaney) is murdered in a blow up and the
plates are robbed and they are condemned to an US and Germany military
prison . They escaped and went on the run, pursued by Captain , later
degraded Lieutenant Sosa (Jessica Biel). Hannibal Smith was their chief
and an expert at disguises . Templeton Faceman (Bradley Cooper
substituting Dirk Benedict) was the team's con artist and lady's man .
M.A. Baracus (Quinton Rampage Jackson replacing Mr T) with extreme
panic to flight , he was their mechanic , but also took care of mayhem
and intimidation . The final member of the Team , "Howling Mad" Murdock
(Sharlto Copley similar role to Dwight Schulz), was an expert but nutty
pilot, and a certified lunatic , but they broke him out of a mental
hospital whenever they needed him for a dangerous mission.
This entertaining story is concentrated on known characters as well as thrill-packed action and special effects although there're numerous of that too . The movie has unstopped ,tension, comedy , emotion, suspense and sensational scenarios like is customary development of the franchise . Spectacular , exciting , fast-paced , thrilling this is the description of this new cinematic outing of ¨A Team¨ , film that reinvents the saga through a perfect pulse narrative that does not give a second of rest to the spectator who is trapped for two hours approx. in a genuine visual spectacle . Humor , thrills , several agreeable characters and trademark effects abound and will please the series enthusiasts such as the neophyte .
The agreeable acting convinces , especially the leader Liam Neeson , the sympathetic Bradley Cooper and Brian Bloom in a super-villain role , while other players also make a nice work as Patrick Wilson and the gorgeous Jessica Biel. And of course , special appearance in brief cameos from Dwight Schulz and Dirk Benedict , though doesn't appear Mr. T. The moving final amazing the spectator , in which the stirring and spectacular scenes create a perfect union that terminates with an ending that leaves you stuck in the armchair facing the formidable spectacle as a privileged witness . It is the rebirth of the series, an enjoyable homage , the start of a new scenario . Fans of the series may find much to love , but others will be bewildered by excessive and breathtaking situations . Thrilling soundtrack by Alan Silvestri , he composes an impressive musical accompaniment to the film . Furthermore a colorful and glimmer cinematography by Mario Fiore . Suitable for family viewing , it's an entertaining adventure which young and old men will enjoy . Fans of the series will find very bemusing and fun . It is amusing to watch and aficionados are sure to love it , resulting to be one of the best adaptations based on TV series of the last times.
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Pity the fool who doesn't enjoy this film, 22 June 2012
Author: Spiked! spike-online.com from London, United Kingdom
When I heard that they were making a movie of The A-Team, I fully
expected a Thanksgiving-size turkey. I was never a massive fan of the
TV series, which despite the running theme of good guys versus the
government always felt like a smug, popular-culture expression of
Ronald Reagan's politics. Just because you can remember the
catchphrases doesn't mean it was any good.
The TV show was formulaic down to having exactly the same stunt - a car spinning over sideways - in every episode. Why bother making a film of it? Since there have been few enjoyable remakes of old American TV shows - only the Ben Stiller / Owen Wilson parody of Starsky and Hutch springs to mind - the omens were not good.
The film version of The A-Team is not merely over-the-top. It's in a geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above over-the-top. Ridiculous does not even begin to describe it.
There's the way 'Hannibal' Smith (Liam Neeson), having been beaten half to death by crooked Mexican cops, avoids being shot with his own gun by the forward thinking of taking the firing pin out - and then uses said firing pin to free himself from his handcuffs which he then puts on the two nasty-looking dogs sent to finish him off. And then says 'I love it when a plan comes together!'
Then there's the way Smith randomly chances upon another former US Army Ranger, BA Baracus (played by cage-fighting star Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) - who has just had to beat up an entire gang of Mexican smugglers to get his beloved GMC van back - in the middle of the Mexican desert. The two of them go off to rescue Smith's partner, 'Faceman' Peck (Bradley Cooper), crashing into the gang's camp just as 'Face' is about to be burned alive (although he's still laughing and joking about it all, naturally).
The crew then dash off to a local mental asylum where they are told that the best pilot (and biggest lunatic ever), Captain HM 'Howling Mad' Murdock, can be found. Having sprung Murdock, the four make their escape in a hospital chopper which is then chased by the nutty Mexicans in a helicopter gunship. Having used a variety of ludicrous means to evade the gunship's missiles - including stalling their chopper to avoid heatseekers - the fearless four cross into US airspace where a jet fighter is conveniently ready to shoot down the Mexicans.
None of these facts are spoilers. All of these things happen before the opening titles.
The A-Team is like Hollywood Action Movie Lasagne: it's a layer of cliché, followed by a layer of implausibility, followed by another layer of cliché and so on, with the whole lot finished off with a sickly rich layer of computer-generated special effects. There's one spectacular set-piece after another. If anything, The A-Team tries just too damned hard to blow us away, to the point where the possibility that anything that is displayed on screen could actually happen becomes inconceivable.
While they were blowing all that money on CGI, they clearly didn't bother spending much on make-up. Liam Neeson's grey hair looks like it was done by the people responsible for the 'before' shots on those Just For Men adverts. In other words, it's every bit as implausible as the rest of the film.
And just when the implausibility ratings couldn't get any higher, the woman pursuing our friendly rogues, far from looking like The Freak from Prisoner Cell Block H (as you might expect a ball-breaking military chick to look), wears high heels, a sleek black leather coat and looks like Jessica Biel. (Oh, hang on, it is Jessica Biel.)
And yet, after watching half an hour of this utter nonsense, I noticed something else: I hadn't stopped smiling.
As one high-octane, tongue-in-cheek incident followed another, I found myself muttering 'No way!' as frequently as BA Baracus was grunting 'This is bullshit, man!'. In other words, a lot. Because the truth is that The A-Team is fun. Just leave your reality check at the door.
Not that action movies should ever try to be kitchen-sink dramas. In fact, this is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink drama. So it's one 'gag' - in the old Hollywood sense - after another. It's as much an homage to Buster Keaton, albeit a very loud, violent homage, as it is to the original A-Team TV show. And at least it doesn't take itself as seriously as Mission Impossible.
It's also got 'FRANCHISE' stamped all over it. At the very least, expect a sequel. For those familiar with the TV series, where Hannibal, Face, BA and Murdock are soldiers of fortune in the Los Angeles underground, this film is like a prequel: it ends where the TV series begins.
And don't worry if don't catch it at the cinema. If you've got a problem, and you know where to find a Blockbuster, you can hire The A- Team. On DVD, in a month or two, at least.
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