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