Review: The A-Team

The latest TV adaptation, The A-Team, gets 3 great actors and one unproven one together with a director that can shoot some action and the results is an almost non-stop action flick with paper thin characters and a weak plot that is quite a lot of fun.

The A-Team is a group of rangers who have been performing mission after mission specializing in black ops and crazy over the top affairs.  After being sporadically thrown together in the film’s opening back story we flash forward to eight years later to see the team accept a mission in Iraq to recapture a billion some dollars and the illegal plates that made them.  Well as you can tell from the trailer, the group is double crossed, thrown in prison, and are forced to prove their innocence.

The film is a very similar plot line to The Losers from a couple months ago and both of these film are equally fun, have great casts, and realize that they are big fun action movies and try not to be anything more; and it works great for both of them.  Is the film’s plot simple and not all that thought out, sure.  Are the characters fairly one note and lack any real depth or diversity to their characters, of course.  But why is that a bad thing?  The film isn’t trying to create high art, it is trying to entertain, and it does that with ease.

The films first hour is almost a text book lesson in how to make an action movie.  Action of every variety, fighting, car chases, and helicopter dog fights, it does a little bit of everything.  The pacing is great, never letting up in the least, and it is very easy to enjoy the ride.  The second half of the film starts off a tad slow, but as long as we are hanging out with the A-Team you won’t mind the dragging bits.  Yes things get a bit over the top and the film throws logic out the window from time to time but it is all in the spirit of pacing and fun and I for one was glad to take it.

One of the things I was most delighted with in the film was Sharlto Copley coming out swinging and proving District 9 was not a fluke.  The breakout star of last years sci-fi sleeper hit is incredibly funny and convincingly crazy as the ridiculous pilot Murdoch.  Joe Carnahan and Copley try just about everything for laughs and they mostly succeed while Copley proves he can go toe to toe with some of the best working actors, i.e. Liam Neeson.  Neeson plays Hannibal, the team leader, and he like everyone else in the crew has a great swagger and charisma that is instantly likable and equally badass.  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson does a serviceable enough job in his first acting gig and while he is a bit behind his co-stars in talent he still has plenty of fun and never slowed things down one bit.  Bradley Cooper wraps up the rest of the team as “Face” and he is funny, smooth, and revels in the action scenes.  The whole team just captures the spirit of the film throughout and they make it easy for you to jump into the mayhem and not fret about the plot/character shortcomings.  Jessica Biel doesn’t do anything terribly interesting, not that the script gives her much to do, and she fill her role just fine.  Patrick Wilson is also fun and silly as a CIA operative that probably shouldn’t be trusted.

Also, a quick disclaimer before we wrap this up, I didn’t see the last five minutes of the film, the negative burned at our screening, but the main plot was wrapped up and for all I know there wasn’t something that ruined the film in those final minutes.

In the end, The A-Team is a fun, action packed, and well shot flick and it is a breath of fresh air to have a director like Carnahan showing us how an action movie should be shot.  Sure a bit more complexity and depth to the characters and story could have put this over the top, but it remains an extremely fun and worthwhile movie on its own right.  The cast is mostly great and they have some fine chemistry together which will have you pining for more after the credits roll; or your negative burns out, whichever comes first.

The A-Team is a B

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