Sunday, June 13, 2010

Movie Review: "The A-Team"

Oh sweet mindless summer movie-- I have finally found you. This appears to be the summer of the 1980's remakes. This weekend alone has The A-Team and The Karate Kid while "Predator" gets a makeover and a slightly new name next month with Predators. My childhood is calling and this weekend I chose pointless explosions over a precocious Jaden Smith. I guess my generational prejudice is showing-- Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson just seem so much more interesting; or maybe good-looking is more accurate. "The A-Team" was one of the few shows I could watch as a kid without having to keep my three older brothers from changing the channel. Like "The Dukes of Hazzard" it was a show that was light on plot and heavy on silly one-liners and action. The scriptwriters didn't forget that when they wrote this big screen adaptation. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) is the leader of the A-Team, a small, elite group of soldiers who first teamed up in Mexico and have since made a name for themselves as a combat unit stationed in Iraq. Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper) is a good-looking charmer who acts as Hannibal's right hand man. B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracas (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) is the muscle of the group while H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdoch (Sharlto Copley) is their pilot. Their last mission in Iraq had them trying to recover U.S. Treasury plates and over one billion dollars in counterfeit currency in the possession of Iraqi insurgents. The mission was successful, but strictly off-the-books, and when they are betrayed there is no proof they were acting on the authority of the U.S government and they end up sentenced to ten years in prison. Six months later the team, determined to clear their name, escape prison and set out to find the treasury plates and find out who betrayed them. The beauty of a movie like "The A-Team" is that you know well before you walk into the theater whether or not you're going to like it. At least you will if you watched the original series. The movie is a lot like the show it's based on. Which, when you consider how abysmal some remakes have been ("Starsky and Hutch" comes immediately to mind), that's actually a good thing. There is nothing deep, meaningful or unpredictable about "The A-Team." It is mindless summer fare full of absurd action sequences that somehow manages to be fun and likable because of good casting. Liam Neeson is always a solid screen presence and he doesn't disappoint as Hannibal Smith. Not many actors could pull off the gray hair and token repetition of Hannibal's trademark line of "I love it when a plan comes together," but Neeson makes it work. Bradley Cooper is given more than a token role as Faceman and he proves he has the charisma to be credible in the role . Likewise Sharlto Copely ("District 9") is great as Murdock and Quinton Jackson does a passable job as a latter-day Mr. T. I even liked Jessica Biel. "The A-Team" is exactly the movie I expected to see. It's as silly and unrealistic as the original. Bullets fly everywhere and never hit the heroes while they make multiple life-and-death escapes in the first five minutes. It also made me laugh and reminded me of happy times watching the show as a kid. I wouldn't have liked the movie as much if I didn't have a certain nostalgia for the television series and it's certainly not something you have to see on the big screen. It's an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half if you're looking for something entertaining that doesn't flex too many brain cells. I wouldn't rank it high on my "must-see" list but I will admit I thought it was fun.

8 comments:

Sullivan McPig said...

I still think the casting of the characters is way off, especially Murdoch and B.A. I don't think i'll go see it
And as for Starsky and Hutch: I have to disagree with you on that movie. It wasn't even a remake, but more of a parody and as such it really did it's job.

SQT said...

Not gonna lie-- I hated the movie version of "Starsky and Hutch." That was another show I watched as a kid and it was a good show. It didn't deserve to be butchered by Ben Stiller. But I think he's hugely overrated. And it was a really awful movie.

I think you'd change your mind if you saw "The A-Team" casting if you saw the movie. Besides, who on earth would you cast as B. A.? It's not Shakespeare, so all you need is a guy who can pull of a Mohawk and speech patterns of Mr. T. Sharlto Copley is a really good actor too and actually brings more to the part than it probably deserves.

SQT said...

I should acknowledge that "Starsky and Hutch" does fall into the parody category though. Maybe "Charlie's Angels" would have been a better example... I just always thing of "Starsky and Hutch" when I think of bad movie retreads. I guess I really don't like Stiller, and it shows.

Budd said...

I saw the movie and I wasn't expecting to like it, but I did. It was quite enjoyable and there was actually a plot holding those explosions together. Not the deepest of all plots, but a plot. It was a fun popcorn movie. SciFi Media

SQT said...

Budd-- I agree. I've seen worse from movies that were supposed to deliver more. I think they did a good job at keeping the spirit of the original series.

Kate and JB said...

The idea of Qui-Gon Jinn fighting alongside a Mr. T clone is too good to pass up. The A-Team movie would have been better with lightsabers though. As for Starsky and Hutch, Stiller is painful to watch even in his better roles. He is one of those actors like Billy Bob Thornton that ought to be paid not to be in movies.

SQT said...

Kate and JB-- Lol! Seeing a lightsaber in Liam Neeson's hand again would be awesome. I pretty much agree with your Stiller and Thornton assessment, though I think Thornton is a decent actor. He just has a creepy vibe that makes you wonder how he ever got a job in Hollywood in the first place. Though, having worked there myself, I can vouch that the town has a lot of creepy people lurking about.

Ace said...

I grew up on the A-Team. My wife is ten years younger and did not.

Her comment after the end credits finished rolling: "I'm surprised. I actually liked it."