Friday, January 7, 2011

The A-Team

Directed by Joe Carnahan.
2010. Rated PG-13, 117 minutes.
Liam Neeson
Bradley Cooper
Jessica Biel
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Sharlto Copley
Patrick Wilson
Gerald McRaney
Brian Bloom
Henry Czerny

Omari Hardwick

Overkill is underrated. That phrase is used in the trailer for The A-Team and somewhere along the way our fearless leader, Col. Hannibal Smith (Neeson) actually does utter these words. This movie treats that statement like a plague to be cured. Nothing is done that isn’t overdone. Another line of dialogue helps ease us into suspending our belief. Cpt. Sosa (Biel), hot on the trails of our heroes, tells her own team that these guys “specialize in the ridiculous.” This flick knows its just dumb fun, and makes sure you do, too.

If you have any knowledge of and/or recollection of the 1980s then you know this movie is based on the television series of the same name. For you youngsters that only see him in commercials, or know of him through his Chuck Norris styled “facts”, that series, along with Rocky III is the reason Mr. T is famous. From its first episode, it told us these guys were fugitives from the law based on a crime they didn’t commit. While fleeing the government and trying to gather information to clear their names, they were hired by the good citizens of Anytown, USA to take on the local bad guys. The movie is a prequel to this. It examines how our boys found themselves in that predicament. Honestly, going this route is a wise decision. We get the origin story we never really got from the series.

Even if this is all a bit goofy, and wholly unrealistic, it’s a fun, brainless adventure. As brainlessness goes, this is top notch. There’s plenty of narrow escapes, elaborate plans and pure zaniness, a lot like its source material. Much of this formula’s success hinges on the work of Liam Neeson as Hannibal. As was the case with Taken, his booming voice and unshakeable swagger elevates the material he’s given to work with. He’s helped most in this department by Bradley Cooper as Face. Sharlto Copley is adequate as Murdoch. The only suspect performance is turned in by MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as B. A. Baracus. The problem is his Mr. T impersonation comes and goes. Either do it, or don’t. That said, I was hoping to hear him use Mr. T’s iconic catch-phrase “I pity the fool”, but I don’t remember him using it. However, this version of Baracus forgoes all the gold chains and instead rocks a tat on his left hand that reads “pity” while one on his right reads “fool.” I guess that covers it.

Overall, The A-Team is a popcorn flick with no pretentions of being otherwise. This enables us to enjoy it even as it revels in its own stupidity. Of course, for some it will just be entirely too dumb. Once again, it knows this and doesn’t mind one bit.

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