This film is totally brainless. There are plot holes and logic
gaffes. Some people and vehicles are seemingly indestructible and most
bad guys can’t shoot straight. The camera work was often incoherent and
there were a few shots that provided repetitive and unnecessary
But Sweet Santa Christ, The A-Team kicked ass!
Consider: Late in the movie, a cargo ship topples and spills dozens
of giant metal crates onto our heroes before it blows up. Earlier on,
Face trash-talks a fighter drone as he shoots at it with a giant gun
from a tank that’s falling from a C-130 that blew up in midair. If
neither of these things strikes you as remotely awesome, then you need
to reassess your standards immediately.
Also, as empty-headed as the proceedings are, the story is
surprisingly clever in its modernization. Recent developments such as
the Iraq invasion and Blackwater are very effectively used, as well as
advances in electronics and military hardware that would have been
science fiction at the time of the original series.
The titular A-Team is anchored by Col. “Hannibal” Smith, played by
Liam Neeson. Hannibal is portrayed as a variation on Neeson’s “wise
mentor” routine and he doesn’t really bring anything we haven’t seen
from him already. However, that established routine is exactly what the
role needed and Neeson does effectively sell us a man of great
intelligence and charisma. He could think his way out of any situation,
which proved vital for this movie: It’s easy to suspend disbelief for a
few of the movie’s crazier stunts, given that Hannibal’s behind it all.
Additionally, Neeson seems to be enjoying himself immensely here and
that’s great to see, given the tragedy he went through shortly before
Next up is erstwhile MNU agent Sharlto Copley, playing Murdock. This
guy is the best kind of batshit. What’s medically known as “snooker
loopy.” Looney Tunes. Mad as a hatter. Certifiably insane. And he’s a
blast to watch. There are so many times and gags when Murdock could have
been an annoyance, but he never was. Instead, he was constantly funny
and endlessly entertaining to watch. Bravo, Mr. Copley.
Then there’s B.A. Baracus, with wrestler Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
taking the heavy mantle from Mr. T. Given the universally iconic status
of his predecessor and the track record of wrestlers turning into
actors, this could have gone wrong in so many ways. It indeed does, but
through no fault of Jackson’s. In the first act of this movie, Jackson
is amazing. He’s badass and campy in just the right amounts, taking the
B.A. persona and making it his own with the skill and confidence of a
seasoned pro. But then the second act comes. And from this point on —
when he’s not repeatedly getting knocked out before plane rides to deal
with his fear of flying — he’s going through a subplot in which he
takes a vow of non-violence.
That’s right: B.A. Fucking Baracus takes a vow of non-violence.
This character arc is every bit as worthless, stupid and predictable as
you’d think. Damned if the eventual pay-off wasn’t effectively done,
All the A-Team members are quite well-balanced in terms of screen
time and effect on the plot, and all the actors who play them (even
Jackson, who does his damnedest in spite of crippled character
development) look like they’re having a great time and are fun to watch.
Even so, the undisputed star of this movie is Bradley Cooper, playing
Lt. “Face” Peck. He gets the girl, he gets a lot of action scenes and he
goes from Hannibal’s second to his equal. This is his movie. Whatever
“star quality” is, there’s no doubt that Cooper has it. In two roles
(this and in Hangover), Cooper has established himself as an
intelligent charmer with great skills in comedy and in action. The guy
can act and I can’t wait to see what else he does.
Even more impressive is Patrick Wilson, here playing a CIA baddie
known only as “Lynch.” Even when he seems to start out on the level,
there’s always a thin layer of grime on him that only grows thicker as
the movie progresses. There are times when Lynch starts to veer towards
camp, but Wilson always keeps him just this side of bearable. Lynch has
great political power and he knows how to use it. He’s also just
mentally and physically powerful enough to stand against the A-Team. In
short, Lynch is absolutely everything that Max from The Losers
should have been. Within roughly a year, Patrick Wilson went from
playing a dumpy former hero pining for the old days and always striving
to do the right thing to playing a handsome and charming backstabbing
slimeball. I’m calling it: Someday, this man is going to win an Oscar.
Not for this role, but someday.
Last and least is Jessica Biel. She plays a love interest in an
action movie who never becomes a “damsel in distress” (…well, maybe
for about half a minute in the second act), which is something I’ve
waited to see for quite a while. I’m also glad that she wasn’t
crowbarred-in and actually played a very active role in the plot. Alas,
Biel is stuck playing the “straight man,” which is a rotten and
thankless job in this movie. Next to the crazy and lovable daredevils in
the A-Team, the duplicitous scheming villain and the elaborate
stuntwork spectacles, Biel’s straight character could only appear as
dynamic and engaging as drywall. Aside from a few neat character moments
near the end of the movie, Biel is totally unremarkable here, though
it’s hard to fault her for it.
The movie has its faults, but the fact remains that I haven’t had so
much fun in a theater for a long, long time. If you’re looking for some
stupid summer entertainment, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s
not exactly a secret that we’ve been having a lousy summer in terms of
box office grosses, so I urge you to go out and see this movie. It’s
easily worth your money.