Saturday, June 12, 2010

"A-Team" gets a B minus for effort



The A-Team (2010)

117 min., rated PG-13


Grade: B -


For better or for worse, TV shows need to be made into movies so here's The A-Team, a leathery, machismo-fueled big-screen blow-up of the '80s TV series, with a little M*A*S*H, Mission: Impossible, and The Dirty Dozen

The rogue, ragtag team of special forces that is the A-team connect in Mexico: there's cigar-chomping Colonel Hannibal (calming-voiced Liam Neeson), womanizing Face (cocky-grinning Bradley Cooper), mohawked giant B.A. Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, a spitting image of Mr. T), and mad-man pilot Murdoch (the engagingly clownish Sharlto Copley). Then they are falsely accused of stealing U.S. Treasury engraving plates from the Iraq War and then convicted and imprisoned; naturally, they bust out and go after the culprits that set the team up. 

Jessica Biel is there purely for eye-candy babe purposes as an Army officer and Face's old flame. When her character reports that the A-Team specializes in the ridiculous, she wasn't kidding. 

The plot is an excuse for a bunch of noisy, bombastic action stunts, which are a great load of fun when they're being so cheerfully stupid. Other times, the shoot-outs are so cluttered and chaotically framed, but such is the stuff of summer action blockbusters. 

Director and co-writer Joe Carnahan, after his Smokin' Aces, keeps things whizzing by like a wind-up toy and man-ups the ridiculousness with a sequence involving a tank attached to a parachute. There's also a funny bit involving 3-D glasses and the intro of the TV show.

So for some videogame-action playfulness, The A-Team works: the muscular cast gets an 'A' for effort and there's some real cheeky jokiness in the macho banter. “Overkill is underrated,” one character says, which is very befitting for a yahoo movie all about overkill.

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