Pity the fool who can’t get down with the overblown b-grade action entertainment found in The A-Team.
A line of dialogue in this film states firmly that “overkill is underrated”, and overkill is exactly what this big screen adaptation of the beloved ‘80s TV show subscribes to.
Not to mention overwrought and overlong. Yet no matter its flaws (and there are many), The A-Team knows how to have fun, and it delivers on its promise of big bangs and even bigger cheese.
Helming this vehicle is Joe Carnahan, he of the thrilling 1970s inspired police procedural Narc, and the entertaining yet distracting action ensemble Smokin’ Aces.
Four years have passed since the latter, and in that time Carnahan has found the right big budget, big concept project to match his action aesthetic, which is properly displayed here with a succession of well choreographed action sequences of little logic, a lot of CGI spectacle, and an unrelenting (perhaps even disorientating) sense of urgency in its camera work.
Carnahan doesn’t waste any time introducing his A-Team in the thick of the action.
Just like The Beatles, each member in this supergroup has a specific quality: there is Hannibal (Liam Neeson), the smart one; Face (Bradley Cooper), the pretty one; B..A. Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson), the tough one; and Murdock (Sharlto Copley), the crazy one.
Together they make the best covert operations team Uncle Sam has ever produced, yet a double cross in Iraq sees them stripped of their rank, on the outs, and on the run. Hell bent on clearing their name the boys decide to fight back, while trying to stay clear of a dogged military investigator (Jessica Biel) and a shady CIA operative (Patrick Wilson).
The performances by a well picked cast are the films main strength. Neeson is always solid as a leader, Cooper proves his worth as an action hero, and Wilson plays the swarmy pratt very well.
Yet this movie belongs to Sharlto Copley. If there was a category at the Oscars for best performance in an action movie, Copley would surely win it for his balls to the walls crazy and persistently entertaining turn as “Howling Mad” Murdock.
His knack for improvisation, on key comedic chops, and handle on a variety of accents makes him a pleasure to watch, and an invaluable asset for Carnahan, who wisely lets him loose when the time is right.
Copley’s energy meshes well with Neeson’s gravitas, Cooper’s charm, and Jackson’s physicality. Together a formidable foursome overcomes the films weaknesses, of which there are many, to be sure. Having the ultimate bad ass in B.A. Baracus undergo a crisis of conscious in regards to violence is just silly, and the romance angle between Biel and Cooper just doesn’t click.
Yet for those who like the type of shake, rattle, and roll action moviemaking which this film adheres to, and the fine performances found within, The A-Team is worth the shot at the multiplexes.