The A-Team * * 1/2

Genre: Action

Director: Joe Carnahan

Writers:  Joe Carnahan, Brian Blom & Skip Woods

Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson

Running Length: 117 minutes

Synopsis: The A-Team serves as an “origins” movie for the TV series, explaining how the A-Team was formed. Viewers of the TV series know that the A-Team is an ex-military group of mercenaries, who were wrongly accused for a crime they didn’t commit. The movie explains how the four – uber intelligent leader Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), brute force B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), pretty boy Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Bradley Cooper) and unhinged (but excellent) pilot “Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copley). An elite military unit in Iraq, they are framed for stealing counterfeit US$100 engraving plates and are sent to prison. However, with the help of a CIA operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson), they escape and attempt to clear their names. Hot in pursuit is Lieutenant Sosa (Jessica Biel) and her military team, who also happens to be Faceman’s old flame, as well as another band of mercenaries led by Pike (Brian Bloom).

Review:  The A-Team follows the summer action blockbuster template to a T, which means an extremely thin plot, and an endless number of action sequences, peppered by humourous one liners, and a little bit of romance. In short, it serves to appeal to the teenaged boys as the main viewer demographic, who will undoubtedly enjoy the movie even if they have no idea this franchise had a previous life on the small screen. That’s not to say that older viewers and women won’t be able to enjoy the movie – there are enough references to the TV franchise (stay for the post-credits scene to catch a cameo of two of the TV alumni), just about the right mix of action and cheese to make this a relatively pleasant viewing experience. For the women (and some men), Bradley Cooper continues his streak (pun intended) of appearing bare-chested in the film, and for extended scenes to boot.

Most of the action sequences are pretty intense, but this is definitely not a movie which takes the laws of physics into consideration. They are, however, quite fun to watch even as your mind gradually shuts down from disuse as the minutes roll by (and thus the action sequences become increasingly entertaining). However, Joe Carnahan employs a Michael Bay-esque directorial style at times, which employs way too many quick cuts, to the point that some scenes look jittery and are utterly confusing (think Transformers).

Although both the plot and the cast play second fiddle to the action, the four lead actors actually pull off a pretty admirable job of aping the old TV characters. The most memorable one has to be Sharlto Copley (whose previous cinematic outing in District 9 proved pretty good as well), who is almost a carbon copy of Dwight Schulz’s performance (the original Mad Murdock).

The 2010 summer releases have been relatively disappointing to date, both for the testosterone and oestrogen parades, and fortunately The A-Team is a slight step up from the mediocre. Had the action been less frenetic and the plot a little more substantive, this would have been the first true summer blockbuster of the year; as it stands it’s a good 2-hour diversion (and possibly a guilty pleasure), but nothing more.

Rating:  * * ½ (out of four stars)


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