The A-Team (Image courtesy 20th Century Fox photo:Michael Muller)
It’s all about expectations really. Sometimes you go into a movie not hoping for much and leave pleasantly surprised. “The A-Team” was such an experience.
Being old enough, sadly, to have seen George Peppard and Mr T in the original “A-Team” TV series in my young adulthood it was clear the 21st century adaptation would have to walk a fine line between the expectations of two centuries.
First it has to capture the original’s preposterous premise (heavily armed former soldiers on the run from the law running around doing good deeds with high explosives) laced with cornball humor spouted by one dimensional characters (Mr T’s catchphrase “Pity the fool” still rattles around in many brains.)
Yet it also has to feed the modern appetite for a little more depth of plot and a lot more spectacle.
Director Joe Carnahan (“Smokin’ Aces”) gets it right in this summer audience pleaser. Liam Neeson plays Col. Hannibal Smith leading his volatile but effective team of renegades whose loyalty is apparently based on the fact they have matching military tattoos.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson steps into Mr T’s shoes as the mohawked B.A. Baracus, Bradley Cooper plays the smooth talking Face, and Sharlto Copley (recently seen herding prawns in “District 9”) plays the crazed pilot Murdoch. Jessica Biel weaves into the plot as one of Face’s many former girlfriends. She also happens to be a high-level government operative who has more than a passing interest in the A-Team’s activities.
They are an appealing bunch, and Carnahan drops them into various hotspots around the world, which provide attractive backgrounds for the ensuing mayhem.
The plot has an appropriate level of preposterousness, with the team laying out hugely complicated plans which often depend on anticipating quixotic reactions by several different groups of highly intelligent and malevolent people all out to kill them. Yes, there’s something about a plot of print billions of dollars worth of counterfeit US currency, but the possible collapse of the US economy is just a small thread in the larger A-Team web.
The special effects are magnificent, and Carnahan amps up the action wonderfully as the story continues. It says something that the flying tank comes only half way through the film.
Silly isn’t the word for it. Fun is. As plans and counterplots pile one on top of another you just have to go with the flow, which after all is the summer movie experience in a nutshell.