The A-Team

A Review by Nate Grenbeck

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Sharto Copley, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Jessica Beil
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Rated: PG-13 for action violence and sexual content
Movie Released: 2010

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 now survive as soldiers of fortune.  If you work for Hollywood, need action movie script, and if you can find them, maybe you can re-hire….The A-Team.

That’s right folks, We’ve stooped to re-hashing the A-Team as a summer blockbuster.  And, we managed to do it sans Mr. T.!   Not even a cameo by the man who made the phrase “I pity the foo!” famous, although don’t think for one minute Hollywood didn’t try.  Mr. T just “pitied the foo” who was try to remake the magic of the A-Team.  Not agreeing with the direction the film was taking, Mr. T took a strong stance against the film saying it was too violent and contained sexual content that he didn’t agree with.  Or at least that is what we are all being told.  The real truth is, they couldn’t get him to stop playing World of Warcraft long enough to make an appearance.  (He is a Night Elf Mohwak after all).

Our summer of duds continues with The A-Team, however, not all is lost in this attempt to re-hash 80’s action gold.  Searching low and high for actors who could fit the bill of the original A-Team was certainly a difficult task, but one that Fox studios managed to do quite well if I do say so myself.  Placing Liam Neeson in charge of the group as Hannibal Smith turned out to be a brilliant plan, and I love it when a plan comes together!  Pardon the A-Team pun.  Pretty boy Bradley Cooper steps in as Faceman in the newest adaptation; a wise cracking, smart ass role that was written for Cooper’s wit and on screen charm.  Putting on his best slightly crazy pilot act, Sharto Copley, most notably of District 9 fame found himself wound up in the role Murdock, and from what I remember of the show also puts on a great performance.

Now the toughest part of the casting comes down to who do you get to play “Bad Attitude” Baraccus, the character famed by none other than Mr. T.?  The studio offered the role to UFC fighter  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.  While Jackson certainly isn’t Mr. T., he is at least a bearable character replacement.  After all, you have to think of it this way- it could have been someone like- Ice Cube or Mos Def.  On second thought Mos Def would have been interesting.

The point of this all is, amazingly enough Fox managed to come out of the casting room with a decent enough cast that this film could work.  Along the way they also managed to pick up Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson,  and Gerald McRaney (You might know him better as Mac McGillis from the 90’s sitcom Major Dad).

Where the studio made their mistake was by picking up Joe Carnahan as the director.  Carnahan, whose previous claim to fame was the choppy, pointly bloody, hit-men movie, Smokin Aces, really only has one high point in his career, a film called Narc that few people saw and even fewer remember.  None the less, the eccentric director took the reigns of the A-Team flick and managed to give us one jumbled up action adventure.  While The A-Team sticks much more to the look and feel of a mainstream block buster that Carnahan’s other works, The A-Team seems jumbled with his less than clever attempts to jerk the camera around wildly and to jump from plot point to plot point like a little boy that forgot his Ritalin.

Despite a plot that is riddled with gaping holes the size of a BP oil spill, this film trudges onward- mildly entertaining audiences for its run time.  Once you are able to sit back and accept the fact that everything about this film is going to be over the top and ridiculous, you can find enjoyment in the little things- like the A-Team attempting to fly a free falling tank by firing its turret gun.   On the other hand, it’s moments like the end’s “elaborate plan” that make you sit there and think that there has got to be an easier way.  And while I am no Army ranger, I am pretty sure that there probably is an easier way.  In fact their plan is more elaborate and precise that Danny Ocean and his Eleven (twelve, or thirteen) friends would have thought it was way too much work would have walked away from it.  But I guess all is well that ends well- because coming up with “plans” is kind of what The A-Team does.  Which it should be noted, a fun game might be had by simply counting the number of times the word “plan” is said in the film!

The end result of The A-Team was a summer flick that turned out to be a bit of a dud.  I had a fun time watching the characters.  I loved what they did to the characters, I liked the updates and really liked their choices in actors.  But this film went stale in just about every other department.  From directing, to story to special effects, this film just reeked of mediocrity.  There’s really nothing else to say about this film other than to quote Hannibal Smith.  “I love it when a good plan comes together.”  – I do too…problem is this good plan didn’t come together quite right.

Final Grade:

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