Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson,
Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout,
language and smoking.
There are several elements necessary for a film to be a top-notch
summer blockbuster: attractive actors who can have a good time doing
ridiculous things on film; lots of over-the-top chases, preferably in
multiple types of vehicles; gunfights and explosions; and amusing
banter. “The A-Team” has them all in spades. This movie is so far over
the top that the line between realism and ridiculousness is pretty
In case you somehow missed being exposed to the original television
series, the team of the title consists of four men: Hannibal (Liam
Neeson) is the cigar-chomping commander, who loves it when a plan
comes together; Face (Bradley Cooper) is the smooth con artist; B. A.
Barakus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) is a genius mechanic who’s also
good with his tattooed fists; and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) is their
savant of a pilot, who may or may not be clinically out of his mind.
The series had the four written as Vietnam veterans; the film has
updated things a bit so that it can take place in the present day.
The film starts in the middle of an operation in Mexico where Hannibal
and Face wind up running into and recruiting Barakus and Murdock. Once
united, they’re an unbeatable team, so when a nigh-impossible job
needs doing while US troops are pulling out of Iraq, they’re brought
in. As anyone who watched the old show can tell you, the job was a
setup and the team is framed. They break out and set about clearing
their names, with many, many, many ridiculous and awesome hijinks
along the way.
The actors are spot-on. Neeson is mostly known for serious roles, but
he is perfectly capable of not taking himself seriously, and he
demonstrates that here with ease. Copley was last seen as desperate,
mutating Wikus in “District 9,” and it’s astonishing to see him as
Murdock. He steals almost every scene he’s in — which is an
achievement when he’s sharing screen time with Cooper, who is both a
pretty face and a solid actor. Jackson is excellent as Barakus, and
handles the small bits of character development he’s handed well. As
nasty CIA agent Lynch, Patrick Wilson is smooth, slimy, and very
funny; he makes a good foil for the team. Most importantly, all the
actors seem to be having a great time.
This wouldn’t be an A-Team story without lots of crazy chases,
escapes, and battles, and the film doesn’t disappoint. Anyone who’s
seen the trailers knows that at one point the team is in a tank which
gets dropped out of an airplane; what’s left out of the trailers is
the way the team manages to steer it so that it can land safely in
spite of losing two of its parachutes. The action keeps the same fun,
cartoonish feel as the original show, just with a much, much bigger
The script is solid, and the dialogue both entertains and helps us get
to know and like the characters. Like a lot of the best blockbusters,
if you’re sharp and paying attention, there are lots of little moments
of hilarity strewn through the film. But if you’re distracted by
something and mostly watching for the action, it’s still a great flick
— there aren’t long waits between action scenes.
“The A-Team” is a perfect summer movie. It’s funny, lighthearted,
entertaining, and a great way to spend a couple hours out of the heat.
It’s not intellectual, educational, or even realistic, but it is one
heck of a lot of fun. If that’s the kind of movie you like, do not
miss it — and be sure to stay after the credits, especially if
you’re a fan of the original show. If you’re looking for a serious,
smart film, though, go somewhere else.