Director: Joe Carnahan
Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson
Synopsis: One year ago, 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 facility. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers for hire. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… The A-Team.
A review by Film Nerd.
Okay, let’s make this simple. It is clear from a quick glance at Rotten Tomatoes that this is a film that has a decidedly divided opinion, with a tomatometer value of 48% at the time of writing. To decide which side of that line you as a viewer fall in, watch the trailer below. If your first thought seeing a tank fall out of an exploding plane only to sprout parachutes and then fire at enemy aircraft is “this is bloody ridiculous”, stay away. And yes, there is no question it is bloody ridiculous. If however at the same time you are thinking “that is f**king awesome”, get off your butt and buy a ticket yesterday.
I am certainly in the latter camp. I remember growing up with the ’80s TV series, but aside from the van and Mr. T, remember very little of the series. So I was watching this film with a largely clean slate, but also with enough feeling of nostalgia to whet my appetite to the concept. In the end this is an action film, and there is a lot of action! Using the narrative technique of revealing the development of a plan then cutting to that part of the plan being performed works really well, as there is no reliance on memory for what was to happen next. It may sound distracting and really dumbed down, but the fact they are really good plans keeps interest high. There is not a lot of moral ambiguity, and there is not a healthy dose of plot, but sometimes, that is all you need for enjoyable cinema.
The cast is brilliant. Liam Neeson is always a strong screen presence, which would always be required from a character like “Col. Hannibal” Smith. Bradley Cooper builds on a strong CV as the hot likeable guy/con man as Lt. “Faceman” Peck. Sharlto Copley moves on from District 9’s protagonist to the manic “Mad Dog” Murdock, and you can tell he is having a great time going all out. Out of the main four, it was only Quinton “Rampage” Jackson I found disappointing. He had a big job, stepping into Mr. T’s shoes, but the character as played here lacked some of the exuberance I would have expected from the role. Rounding out the rest of the cast are Patrick Wilson’s CIA Agent Lynch, who is quite insane, and Wilson throws himself into the performance. For me the surprise though was Jessica Biel. Her character is the most conflicted in the cast, and she shows a talent at conveying emotion throughout the film that she has only hinted at being capable of showing before, perhaps because her previous directors have been more concerned to get her into a bikini than they have been concerned about her performance.
This is a film with loads of action, a sense of humour, and by no stretch does it take itself seriously. If that sounds like the film for you, go ahead and see it. It won’t change your life, but for 2 hours you will have a very good time. Be sure to stick until the end of the credits for a fun little coda to the film too.
4 stars (out of a possible 5)
The A-Team on IMDB
The A-Team on Rotten Tomatoes