Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Liam Neeson, Bradley
Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson,
Director: Joe Carnahan
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: December 14, 2010
“Overkill is underrated, my friend.”
The A Team pretty much defined mindless action television in the 80s. It was loud, violent, over-the-top and mostly empty, but peopled with some great actors who made two-dimensional characters likeable and fun.
It's not so surprising then that the giant sorely-lacking-idea remake machine called Hollywood would hearken back. The result is about what you got from the television show, plus a bigger budget to make the handful of action scenes even more defiant of every Newton law in the books.
It benefits from some inspired casting in making the eternally awesome Liam Neeason the new Hannibal Smith. Bradley Cooper from The Hangover makes a more interesting Faceman than we had in the past, and Sharlto Copey, so excellent in District 9, gives us a wonderfully daffy Murdock. Perhaps the least thankful role went to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who had to don one of the decade's most iconic characters made famous by a real-life icon. Jackson is no Mr. T, but then, neither is anyone else, and he channels the colorfulness, if not the charisma, of one B. A. Baracus.
The storyline is updated as the foursome are now Iraq war vets. The plot, as it is, involves a terrorist plot to cripple the U. S. economy by printing tons and tons of worthless money with nothing backing it up. Hell, the A-Team should have gone after our current administration instead.
But a set up leaves the forged plates missing and the commanding general (McRaney) dead, and no one to blame but our intrepid foursome. To clear their names, Hannibal will have to organize a jailbreak across four separate prisons, go after the real bad guys, and head off into the sunset.
Their only points of contact are a demoted captain (Biel) who happened to have had...ah, a little face time with Face, and a mysterious government agent named Lynch (Wilson). But with everybody hunting the A-Team, how can they ever right the wrong done to both them and their country?
I love it when a plan comes together, and this film delivers a few big action stretches as part of its scheme. It wasn't exactly the wall-to-wall spectacle it was advertised to be, and a few lengths of the film tried my patience a tad. These characters were never created for their ability to support a narrative. They were supposed to blow s—t up and look cool.
There are a few laughs to be had, and some definite “wow” moments, but action junkies might need an extra fix when all is said and done.
BONUS TRIVIA: Look for original A Team members Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict in cameo roles.
Fox delivers the goods with this impressive high-definition transfer that takes the heat of the Middle East and Mexico and balances it nicely with some night scenes and some fast-paced streaks of action. Images are clean and clear throughout, and the detail levels are striking and well-rendered.
You want it loud? You got it with this HD soundtrack. From the thundering strains of the immortal theme to the explosions that will rock your home theatre up one side and down the other, this is a dynamic, forceful track that keeps you firmly centered in the mayhem.
The extras include an “Inside the Action” featurette with director Joe Carnahan, a “Plan of Attack” featurette, chronicles of the characters, a gag reel, some deleted scenes and a mash-up of the A-Team theme.
If you have nowhere to turn, and if you can find them, you might want to consider skipping The A Team for your action buzz and hire The Expendables instead.