Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith (Liam Neeson) is a master tactician with unconventional methods and leader of a group of Iraq War veterans intent on clearing their name after being convicted for a crime for which they were framed. Each member of the group is unique: Lt. Templeton 'Face' Peck (Bradley Cooper) has good looks and charm, which are both his strength and weakness; Capt. 'Howling Mad' Murdock (Sharlto Copley) is a highly intelligent chopper pilot with a genius I.Q. but mentally unstable; Sgt. Bosco 'B.A.' Baracus (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) is a hot-tempered, super skilled driver and mechanic who can make anything work from ordinary parts. Together, they are the A-Team, thrown into perilous situations and intent on saving the day and their reputations.
Review by Louise Keller:
Overkill is underrated is one of the lines in this futile, frenetic attempt to resuscitate the A-Team from its popular 80s TV origins to an action-movie buddy screen franchise. Serious action for testosterone set, it's a bit like being thrown into a loud video game where confusing plot, muddy dialogue and jumpy camerawork jostle for first prize as the joy stick is cranked up. The action is literally non-stop and it's easy to see the film's budget megabucks- massive explosions, noisy gun-power and high falutin' stunts that blast relentlessly (and seemingly forever) on screen.
In their attempt to rekindle and update the slightly camp TV series feel to hip, cool and sophisticated, the filmmakers have failed dismally. The tone is all wrong. The constant jiving and making light of every situation kills all tension: instead of feeling as though we have been let loose on a thrilling, edge-of-seat ride with quirky and unpredictable characters, there's a chaotic sameness about the high-octane pitch, which means there is little at stake emotionally. The script is just a muddle and in the final analysis, this mindless, contrived Hollywood mess is a sorry waste of resources and its hand-picked talented cast.
In an overlong opening sequence set in British Columbia (doubling effectively as the Mexican desert), we are given the backstory of the A-Team's four rebellious members and the unlikely circumstances in which they meet. The tone when Bradley Cooper's loverboy 'Face' (the team's nicknames reflect their personality traits) is rescued in the middle of nowhere is almost farcical before we plunge head-on into the far-fetched, convoluted, complex and confusing plot about a covert international operation gone wrong recovering billion-dollar engraving plates smuggled by Saddam loyalists. Also involved are Patrick Wilson's CIA operative Lynch and Jessica Biel's Capt. Charisa Sosa from the military's Defense Criminal Investigation Service unit, who once had a close relationship with 'Face'.
Liam Neeson (looking eerily like James Cameron) takes on the former George Peppard role of cigar-chomping 'Hannibal', who does not subscribe to coincidence and believes that timing is everything. Bradley Cooper, so likeable onscreen is well cast as the likeable rogue who can charm the pants off a kangaroo and he delivers his escapades with panache. Sharlto Copley is good value too, as the certifiable chopper pilot 'Howling Mad' who is beyond nuts and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson has the right look to play the iconic BA, the hot shot mechanic with the crazy mo-hawk, whose image epitomised the series.
Big stunts include a truck prised from the water like a claw picking up a stuffed animal, a flying army tank, a spectacular skidding down the sides of a skyscraper and an explosive big finish involving a container ship at the LA docks, when Hannibal's idea of 'distraction, diversion and division' is executed. A is the name of the Team; D (for disappointing) is the rating.
First Published in The Sun-Herald
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A-TEAM, THE (M)
CAST: Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Jessica Biel, Shralto Copley, Quinton Rampage Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Dirk Benedict Dwight Shultz, Gerald McRaney
PRODUCER: Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Stephen J. Cannell, Jules Daly, Spike Seldin, Iain Smith, Alex Young
DIRECTOR: Joe Carnahan
SCRIPT: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mauro Fiore
MUSIC: Alan Silvestri
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Charles Wood
RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 10, 2010