Over the top, big-bangs, cheeky chaps and non-stop fun, The A-Team make the plan come together in just the right measure.
Since the mid 1990s The A-Team had languished in development hell.
Endless promises and false starts lead many to believe that it would
never make its much anticipated, nay demanded, transfer to the big
screen. Enter Joe Carnahan, the man who gave us Smoking Aces (2006) and the pitch dark Narc (2002), who had form in the over the top action genre and, finally, the A-Team were up and planning. So 2010 has seen a slew of want to be ‘teams’ trying to knock Hannibal and his crew off their perch.
We had the mind-bending intelligence of the Inception boys, the old
timers on a mission with The Expendables and the outright B-Team of the
Losers. But make no mistake there is only one A-Team.
When Hannibal (Neeson), Face (Cooper), BA (Jackson) and Murdock (Copley)
band together they become one of the armies most elite weapons. As the
occupation of Iraq comes to an end they set out on one final mission,
only to find themselves framed for a crime they didn’t commit and thrown
in prison. When sinister CIA Agent Lynch (Wilson) helps them
break out they set off to clear their names with Face’s ex-flame Sossa
(Biel) hot on their trail to put them back behind bars.
For people of a certain age the words “In 1972 a crack commando
unit was…” is synonymous with Saturday afternoon television heaven.
The A-Team would battle all manner of local hoodlums in order to fight
for the morally right, all the time staying one-step ahead of their
military pursuers. Hannibal would smoke his cigars, Face would get the
girl, BA would bang some heads and Murdock would do something crazy.
Where the film really succeeds is, for the most part, sticking to this
It should be made abundantly clear that The A-Team was never about thought provoking plots or deep character analysis. If that is what you’re after then you are going to be sorely disappointed. Those looking for a fun adventure with ludicrous action will delight in almost every frame.
Carnahan plants it very much in a world of hyper reality, there is
rarely any real danger or peril but instead rollercoaster thrills.
Injecting it with a light air that never tries to venture outside the
realms of the ridiculous, as one character so aptly puts it “this is
bat-sh*t insane” and that never hurt anyone. Sure it is over edited and
genuinely laughable at some of the stunts the team manage to pull off, a
flying tank is just one of the many examples, but it is always fun and the characters themselves seem all too aware of the over the top nature of their actions.
Crucially , for those who are not familiar with the source material,
the film takes the team back to their origins. In doing so adding a fun
tone as to the realties of their friendships and the dynamics within the
group. In particular BA’s fear of flying is made clear via a hugely
entertaining helicopter incident. For those who are familiar one glaring
omission from the film is a bigger felt presence of the legendary theme
tune, but you can’t have everything.
For any A-Team film to be a success it was always going to require a
cast that could fill some fairly iconic boots. For the most part the
film works on this front. Liam Neeson seems to be channelling the
macho mannerisms he pulled off so well in Taken and finds a level of
effortless calm to accompany it. Bradley Cooper, currently
Hollywood’s go to hunk with a lightning bright smile, brings the
cockiness to Face in just the right amount without ever falling into the
realms of sleaze ball. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, a former Ultimate
Fighting Champion contender hence the weird super-hero name thing going
on, fails to convince as B.A. Baracus. The problem is that B.A has
become something of a cult hero in the hands of Mr. T, see the latest
Snicker adverts as proof, and Jackson is unable to emulate that. He is
further hindered by a strange sub-plot about B.A becoming a pacifist but
he never quite projects enough Bad Attitude to nail the role.
Thankfully where he falters Sharlto Copley truly excels to scene
stealing effect. Murdock was always intended to be the comic relief of
the group so turning to Copely, after his star making performance in
District 9 (2010), seemed like the logical choice. It is through him the
film gains many of its laughs and confirms Copely as a genuinely
loveable actor to watch.
Utterly over the top, mad-capped action-adventure that is never
anything less than mindless brilliance. The A-Team is a film that is
hard not to enjoy on the most commercial of levels. It won’t make you
think but if it doesn’t make you smile than frankly we ‘pity the fool’.