Friday, June 18, 2010

The A-Team - Movie Review


Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson, Gerald McRaney, Henry Czerny and Brian Bloom.
Directed by Joe Carnahan.

Ooh, I really wanted to love this movie, and for the most part, I liked it. But if you're going to amp up the action, at least do it in a way that I can tell what's going on. The first fight we see features MMA star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and it's so choppily edited that you'd think they were trying to hide his lack of physical prowess. "He's a professional fighter, guys! Trust the choreography!"

Fans of the 1980's show (I'm one) will recognize all the familiar trappings. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith is the leader, the cigar-chomping man with the plan. Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck is the ladies man. Cpt. "Howling Mad" Murdock can pilot anything that can fly. Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus is your driver and weapons guy. (B.A. is introduced as a corporal, but I'm pretty sure he was properly promoted to sergeant by the time Act I ends with the "8 years later" coda.)

Act I is meeting the characters and getting the team together. Liam Neeson, who's pretty good at kicking butt in past (Rob Roy) or present (Taken), is Hannibal, and my only real problem with him was the Peppard-like hairpiece, and that I thought it should have been Mel Gibson. Gibson would have had a little more insane fun. Neeson's winking smile is more sinister; it says "People are going to die." Bradley Cooper is okay as Face, but he's so cocky that it almost crosses into "smug" territory. I would have liked a Chris Pine / Chris Evans type actor here. I had no problems with Rampage as B.A. or Copley (District 9) as Murdock. In fact, I wish they'd given Murdock more to do.

Act II is the team gets drouble-crossed, stripped of their ranks, and imprisoned. (In the old show they were Vietnam vets; here they're Iraq War vets. Nice update.) Buuut since this is the A-Team and not Shawshank Redemption, the boys quickly escape and set out to clear their names and get revenge on those that wronged them.

Act III concludes in a giant, expensive, explody cacophany of gunfire and flames and fireworks and big stuff getting destroyed, and I just didn't care. They could have saved themselves a good $20 million by calming down and having a final plan that was more clever and less overkill, but then, at one point in the movie Hannibal says "Overkill is underrated." Well if that's your philosophy, mission accomplished.

I do wish it was doing better at the box-office. This was the origin story movie. I think the central four characters are strong enough; it would have been nice to see them in a sequel where they roam the country standing up for the little guy.

P.S. I watched part of an episode on TV recently. That show has not aged well.

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