The 1980's continue to attempt to make a comeback with an adaptation of the cult classic television series "The A-Team," a show that seemed destined to be resurrected at some point. This new version looks to amp up the action and humor with a talented cast and respected director Joe Carnahan (Narc and Smokin' Aces). Having only seen a few episodes of "The A-Team" as a child and little memory of it beyond the presence of Mr. T, I have nothing to compare it to, but for the most part, The A-Team movie succeeds where it needs to, by providing a non-stop onslaught of entertainment.
The critics have generally panned the movie for being aimless and overly over-the-top, but The A-Team is a perfect example of where expectations come into play. When the movie was first announced long ago, it sparked my interest, knowing little about it other than that it focuses on a team of badasses going around and saving the day. It could be cool. I didn't recall that it was funny or goofy, beyond how dated most ‘80's shows are these days. So, when I saw the first trailer for The A-Team, which featured Bradley Cooper attempting to shoot down airplanes from a tank while parachuting from miles above the ground, my interest immediately turned to disinterest. It's only as the movie approached and critics began to deride it for being "fun but stupid" did my expectations fall completely, but my motivations to see it purely out of morbid curiosity increased exponentially.
And I saw it. And conquered it.
The A-Team is a blast from beginning to end, and the tank-flying scene is one of the best moments in the film. Wow. There, I said it. The A-Team is a really fun movie and the tank-flying scene is one of the best moments in the film. Wow. I repeated it. There you go.
The movie succeeds on a variety of factors, but on a basic level it delivers what it needed to: plenty of action and a lot of laughs. Even though Smokin' Aces was a little underwhelming, Carnahan is a good action director (and if you haven't seen Narc, drop everything and see it now), and more or less he delivers the goods here. From the first minute to the last, things are blowing up or getting shot down, but the action varies enough from sequence to sequence to where it never feels stale. Of course, some moments are more ridiculous than others, but Carnahan, co-writer Brian Bloom and the cast all treat the production lightheartedly. The jokes fly consistently, and the action and humor quickly fuse together to where you can laugh at an action scene while getting an adrenaline rush at the same time.
The cast appears to have had a lot of fun with the production, as the four leads have great chemistry with one another. I can't compare to the original cast, thankfully, so I have no preconceived notions for how certain characters should act or talk. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is the only victim of such notions, as he didn't quite live up to my faint memories of Mr. T (who, actually, is named B.A. Baracus in the show/movie) - but he's still pretty good. Liam Neeson is good, though not remarkable, but Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) and especially Sharlto Copley (District 9) steal the show. Copley is extremely entertaining as the slightly insane Murdock and gets some of the best lines of dialogue.
Even while appreciating the many absurd moments in the movie, The A-Team does struggle in the climax a bit. The climax, though action-packed, is the weakest part of the movie and takes a little steam away from the overall production - but just a little. The cargo ship sequence just bothered me for whatever reason, perhaps because the special effects required seemed to extend beyond the budget provided.
Though the movie stumbles a bit in the final minutes, The A-Team is a fun, exhilarating ride that breathes some fresh air into an otherwise disappointing summer so far. Its box office performance has been weak, making it unlikely we'll see a sequel, but as mindless popcorn fare goes, it is certainly sequel worthy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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