Movie Review: The A-Team

When I reviewed The Losers a few months ago, I called it the “b-team” to this summer’s A-Team movie due to its modest budget and lack of frontline stars.  I’m not saying that a movie needs to have a bunch of high profile actors and cost $100 million to be great, but in this case it makes all the difference.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Evans simply can’t carry a movie the same way Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper can.

The set-up is even very similar to that of The Losers, as we also see the A-Team  framed for a crime they didn’t commit.  The movie follows this elite team of Army Rangers as they attempt to clear their good names and exact revenge on those who betrayed them.  It’s a simple plot, but the excellence is in the execution.

Neeson, who has become everyone’s favorite middle-aged ass kicker after 2008’s Taken, leads the team as Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith.  A jacked and tanned Cooper is obviously having a lot of fun with his role as the fast-talking ‘Face’ and District 9‘s Sharlto Copley is hilarious as the team’s crazy pilot, Murdoch.

The most surprising performance comes from ultimate fighter Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, who steps into Mr. T’s boots as B.A. Baracus.  I expected him to bring the movie down, but he has a very strong screen presence and was quite convincing in his portrayal of his character’s inner conflict of attempting to become a peaceful warrior of sorts.

The weak link of the cast, a title I anticipated belonging to Jackson, is Jessica Biel as a Department of Defense officer who has a romantic history with ‘Face.”  She’s rather bland and is given little to do besides test the strength of the stitching on the blouse of her fashionable business suits.  Biel and Patrick Wilson are there mainly to drive the plot between the chaotic action sequences and provide many of the requisite double-crosses, as it takes a long time to figure out whose side either of them is on.

I use the word “chaotic” to describe the action sequences not because they are overly complex, but because director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) employs the Bourne trilogy/Quantum of Solace style of flash-cutting and frenzied panning that makes it nearly impossible to figure out what the hell is going on.  Fortunately, most of the action sequences are intercut with the footage of ‘Hannibal’ explaining the operation’s plan to his team.  It’s almost as if we’re getting a voice-over of how the plan is supposed to work as it’s being put into action.

Another thing that works in the movie’s favor is its use of comedy.  There’s just something enjoyable about seeing great actors having a great time with a script that isn’t trying to take itself too seriously.  They even take time to poke fun at 3D movies along the way.

I’ve never seen the TV show (give me a break, I only existed for two and a half years during the 80s), but it will be filling up my Netflix queue in no time if it is half as fun as this movie. As the perfect blend of laughs and explosions, The A-Team simultaneously delivers the year’s best action and comedy.  It’s the movie of the summer thus far.

Rating: 9/10

RIYL: The Losers, Mission: Impossible, S.W.A.T.

18 Responses to “Movie Review: The A-Team”
  1. Kaitylyn says:

    “She’s rather bland and is given little to do besides test the strength of the stitching on the blouse of her fashionable business suits.”

    you better be referring to her boob area b/c she is a skinny mini and is testing now such stitching anywhere else..

    –love it!! reading this makes me want to go see it again..

  2. Kaitylyn says:

    “testing no such….” i meant

  3. Kaitylyn says:

    the A-Team the TV show is on hulu if your are curious..

  4. Simon/Ripleu says:

    I’ll see anything with Liam Neeson, honestly. But Cooper, from the trailers, makes me want to punch him in the face. So.

    • I suppose I could understand why you would feel this way if you don’t generally like him. He plays basically the same character he usually does, so if you liked him in The Hangover you’ll like him in this.

  5. dani says:

    you know.. bradley cooper got his bigger start in the wedding crashers as a total doucher that everyone loved to hate.. im glad to see he kind of came back from that.. his face is far to fab to hate on. just my 2 cents.
    oh.. and this review makes me want to go see it.

  6. Castor says:

    Wow 9/10! Glad to see this isn’t as bad as I feared. I may even check it out in theater next week.

  7. I’m pissed that The A-Team lost to The Karate Kid. Go see The A-Team, people.

    I pity the fool who has to take their kids to see bland family fare like The Karate Kid and miss out on having a great time with The A-Team. Yes, I know that was lame.

  8. Kaitylyn says:

    I don’t think it will be good, but you haven’t seen the Karate Kid so I don’t think you can call it bland from just the trailer…

    • Good point. What I’m trying to say is that it LOOKS bland from the trailers, TV spots, etc. That’s what people who are going to see it are basing their decisions on, so they must be seeing something I’m not.

  9. mattvolke says:

    This movie can’t be a 9.

    • A year or so ago I would have agreed with you. Then, I thought about how unfair it would be to reserve 9s and 10s solely for Oscar bait and independent dramas. If we were to put a glass ceiling for these types of movies at 7 or 8, then what would be the point in reviewing/grading them in the first place?

      The only way we can successfully rate movies is by rating them against other films in their genre. I don’t normally enjoy these types of movies (blockbusters, “popcorn flicks,” what have you) but I would undoubtedly put this movie in the top 10 percent of that genre. There is really no point in trying to compare it to a movie like “Raging Bull” or “Citizen Kane.” I know people who give a 10 to “Dumb and Dumber.” Do I question it? No, because I understand that they love the movie and they most likely think it is the funniest movie of all time. I don’t agree with them, but I understand why they would give it that rating.

      I know I’ve already explained this before, but I absolutely hate giving movies grades. They are completely arbitrary and far too much focus is placed on them. Concentrate on the words in the review itself, and you can see why I loved the movie and believe everyone should see it. There are a lot of reviewers, like A.O. Scott of The New York Times for example, who don’t use any sort of grading system (no stars, letter grades, etc) and just let their words speak for themselves. I’m strongly considering that route.

  10. CMrok93 says:

    Just looks like harmless, brainless fun, Can’t complain there, nice review!

  11. mcarteratthemovies says:

    I would like this more if Bradley Cooper wasn’t in it. That guy, much like Jude Law, gives me the wiggins. I swear it’s all fun and games until they start finding the heads in his freezer!

  12. Mystery Man says:

    when I heard they were doing this, i was like wtf?!? then i saw it during the summer and was blown away. hands down one of the most entertaining movies I saw last year. that’s saying alot since I’m a fanboy from back in the day.

    Great review and site you have here. I’ll have to make it a regualr stop!

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