Sunday, June 13, 2010
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.