***1/2 (out of 5)
June 11, 2010
Liam Neeson as HANNIBAL
Bradley Cooper as FACE
Jessica Biel as CHARISA SOSA
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. BARACUS
Sharlto Copley as MURDOCK
Patrick Wilson as LYNCH
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Ask any critic or avid moviegoer out there how the 2010 summer movie season is going, and they’ll quickly tell you that it’s not exactly making the grade. Sure, there have been some fun summer movies like “Iron Man 2,” but most of the films have been misfires and disappointments. There is no doubt that we are in a downer year, at least for now.
Will “The A-Team” revitalize this? Probably not. But it goes a long way to putting the fun back into the multiplex this summer.
Based on the popular television show from the mid-1980s, “The A-Team” follows a group of four Army Rangers who are framed for a crime they didn’t commit. After escaping from four separate maximum security facilities, they reunite to clear their names and right a slate of wrongs that have been done to them and the country.
The biggest thing to note about this film that is different from the show is that people actually die in the 2010 version. Much to the chagrin of Mr. T, who has come out and spoken against this modern interpretation, when people are shot in the movie, they die. But even with this change to the campy, hammy, cartoony violence of the series, “The A-Team” still has its tongue planted firmly in its teeth.
At one point, Hannibal (Liam Neeson) tells the others that “overkill is underrated,” and this seems to be the theme of the film. If you’re going to have one explosion, why not do two? If you’re going to blow up a car, why not blow up a whole bunch of them?
Joe Carnahan channels his directing style from “Smokin’ Aces” to craft an exercise in excess and silliness. Fortunately, that falls right into step with what the original series was. You couldn’t take “The A-Team” seriously back in the 80s, and you can’t take it seriously now.
Why the film works so well falls in the hands of the cast. “The A-Team” has one of the best ensembles that manages to pay homage to the original actors yet give them their own modern spin. While all four actors do a fine job, it’s Sharlto Copley as Mad Dog Murdock who steals the show. A total unknown before last year’s “District 9,” Copley embodies the insanity of Murdock and keeps things light even in the most harrowing of situations.
Of course, that is not to say that “The A-Team” is without its flaws. Like Carnahan’s “Smokin’ Aces,” there are some serious pacing and plot issues. The movie stumbles around at times, trying to lurch ahead to the next action sequence. Were it not for the total awesomeness of said action sequences, the movie would fall apart.
Incidentally, this is the basic structure of the original series. No one could make the argument that “The A-Team” was tightly plotted and paced perfectly back in 1984, so these problems are forgivable in my eyes.
Ultimately, you need to realize that the point of this movie is not great art, but rather to have fun. Go in with an open – or rather an empty – mind and enjoy the fantastic action and awesome explosions. “The A-Team” doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you.