Bradley Cooper as Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck
Liam Neeson as Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith
Jessica Biel as Capt. Charisa Sosa
Sharlto Copley as Capt. 'Howling Mad' Murdock
Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson as Sgt. Bosco 'B.A.' Baracus
Patrick Wilson as Lynch
Gerald McRaney as General Morrison
Henry Czerny as Director McCready
Brian Bloom as Pike
Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Running Time: 1:57
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.
The A-Team was another in a long line of Summer 2010 films that left me wishing for more.
Hannibal, Face, Murdock and B.A. are Army Rangers who have unparalleled success in covert missions. They get set up for a crime involving plates that would allow someone to print U.S. $100 bills. After escaping prison the team need to track down the person who they believe set them up, so that they may clear their names. But are they chasing down the right person? Or is there more to this than meets the eye?
"In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team." That was the opening dialogue to the TV show, although it isn't the plot of the movie. The movie is more of an origin story, where we get to see how the A-Team got together. The TV show went from the crime they were supposed to have committed, straight into them escaping and becoming forces of good. The movie goes from the crime (which is very similar to the TV version), has them escape from prison, then solve the crime only to get sent back to prison before escaping once again.
I know I watched the show back when it was on, for at least a few seasons, but I don't remember much, so I went into the movie with a familiarity of the concept and the characters, but not much else. The biggest problem I had with the film was that it didn't feel like it had much at its heart. There were some cool (and ridiculous) action sequences, but I didn't get to know the characters much and the movie didn't let us into their lives. We're sort of thrown into the mix and the movie just lets loose from there. All things considered it wasn't a bad movie, but it felt like there was a lot missing. There wasn't anything particularly special about it, almost as if the writers and director figured we'd love these characters because we already knew them.
The way these guys meet is over the top ridiculous. Hannibal and Face apparently already work together, but Hannibal, while running through a desert, runs into B.A. as he drives his van through the same desert. There is NOTHING within miles of either of them, yet at the exact same moment they're at the exact same place? And the Hannibal shoots B.A. but once B.A. realizes they're both Army Rangers, all is forgiven. I had a hard time stomaching that. Picking up Murdock was a bit more reasonable because he was the best they could find at the time they needed him. Once they meet and escape the corrupt Mexican police force, we flash forward 8 years into the true story.
The story gets a little convoluted trying to figure out who is on whose side as everyone seems to have a similar gameplan, but are all on opposite sides. It's during the missions that the A-Team carries out that the movie really comes alive. The show was always known for the team doing outrageous, seemingly impossible, things in order to get the job done. And the movie is no different. Each action sequence tops the other, and it all comes to a head with scene that involves them in a plane, and the in a tank, and then... well, you have to see it to believe it. Yes, if you think too much you'll realize this movie is completely absurd, but they characters all seem to be having fun so you go along with it.
Liam Neeson does a good job as Hannibal, the leader of the group. He doesn't have quite the gravitas of the great George Peppard, but he certainly has a great time. Bradley Cooper shines as Face, and he probably has the most fun out of anyone in the cast. And for the ladies, he takes his shirt off on more than one occasion, so enjoy that. Sharlto Copley, to me, was miscast as Howling Mad Murdock. I never felt like he gelled with the role. I'm not sure, off the top of my head, who I would have cast instead, but the actor and the role never connected for me. Rampage Jackson, an MMA fighter, was pretty good in the iconic role of B.A. Baracus, a role that jumpstarted Mr. T's career. He certainly had the right look, but his acting chops just aren't there yet. Luckily he had three talented actors around him to help pick up the slack. And Jessica Biel joined the cast as someone who may or may not be on their side. She was basically there to add some female flavor, even though she wore a pantsuit the entire time.
But for some reason the movie felt a little flat. It wasn't played for the same cheesy humor the TV show was, but it also wasn't a serious action film. There was a little of both but it never fit together for me. The movie just went from action sequence to action sequence without much in between to let us into these characters. I never connected with the characters beyond knowing who they were from the TV show. And there was nothing particularly special about the story or the direction to make the movie stand out. If this does well and they make a sequel, I'm hoping that they delve more into the characters while at the same time, making them go through crazy hoops in a new story. Oh, and stay for the credits because there's an extra couple of scenes at the end.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked The A-Team but I wasn't blown away by it. It had a lot of great action moments, but there was something missing from the overall enjoyment. Still, in a down summer for movies, this one isn't a bad choice for mindless explosions.