Deja Vu All Over Again
Didn't we do this already? Wasn't The A-Team released a few months ago, to little fanfare and worse profits? Oh, that's right, I'm thinking of The Losers. Forgive me for mistaking the two, but the "guys on a mission" genre has hung around since the Dirty Dozen was merely a Tame Trio. Actually, I'm surprised it took The A-Team this long to receive a big-screen hoedown, for even McHale's Navy got a flick first. The original TV program's lighthearted escapades were fit for a summer matinee, and after ages in development, it's finally made it. While The A-Team takes the mindless action concept a bit too close to heart, it probably will earn a place on the "coolest things I've ever seen" list of 13-year-old boys across the nation.
"The A-Team" television show was a hair before my time, but from what I can tell, the film stays loyal to its premise. Whenever a deadly mission requires a flair for the ludicrous, Uncle Sam calls in Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), Murdock (Sharlto Copley), and B.A. Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson). As one of the country's finest commando units, the guys ensure a job well done, even if that job reaches new heights in silliness. But after they're summoned to help nab some counterfeit cash in the Middle East, the A-Team is betrayed and takes the fall for a crime they didn't commit. However, iron bars are no match for these men, who break free from their respective jails and team up to clear their names and bring the real villains to justice.
I liked The A-Team for the same reasons I hated Transformers 2. Awkward, I know, but the former makes being big, dumb, and loud an asset. Michael Bay's metallic maelstrom pleases only a few as it bends over backwards catering to everyone, whereas The A-Team just does what comes naturally. It can't help doing things the hardest way possible, and because the characters have acknowledged this long ago helps scuttle some of the story's frequent lapses in logic under the carpet. But the flick isn't completely off the hook -- chances are you're gonna walk away sick, be it from its severe case of Shaky-Cam Syndrome or the amount of bad CG we're expected to swallow. The guys don't even escape until halfway through, but like the team itself, you can never really hate the movie, no matter how much property damage it causes.
A family is only as strong as its members, and thankfully, The A-Team has conjured a rock-solid brood. Individually, the performances are dodgy. Copley (District 9) makes for a particularly nutso Murdock, but Neeson and Cooper are a little one-note, and Jackson is nowhere close to filling Mr. T's fool-pitying shoes. Still, toss these guys in the same room, and I challenge you not to have the goofiest grin on your face in five minutes. Although The Losers felt like they just met the day before, you get the idea the A-Team boys have been putting up with one another's hijinks for a long time. Managing this insanity from behind the scenes is director Joe Carnahan, whose work on Smokin' Aces makes him ideal for tackling action sequences that give the term "overkill" a run for its money.
I think The A-Team is something of a mess, but what a good-natured and entertaining mess it is. Any movie aiming to go goofy without being annoying has a tough job ahead, and even this one could've gone easy on the sound and fury. Yet where summer blockbusters are concerned, too much is never enough -- a philosophy that goes with The A-Team like Mr. T and mohawks.
MY RATING: *** (out of ****)
(Released by Twentieth Century Fox and rated "PG-13" for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.)