Directed by Joe Carnahan
Written by Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Wood
Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Sharlto Copley
Release Date: June 11, 2010
We are barely into the summer movie season, film analysts in La-La land are already predicting the lowest summer box office intake in many years, but who can blame them? With Sex and the City‘s less than sexy opening box office number and Iron Man 2‘s less than invincible reviews, this year’s summer lineup looks to be less than stellar. Perhaps what this sagging box office needs is a group of soldiers for hire, who, if you have a problem and no one else can help, can solve all your problems.
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson), Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), and H.M. Murdock (Sharlto Copley) were sent on a covert mission during the Gulf War to retrieve stolen U.S. Treasury plates, and things naturally goes awry. The explosive results leave their commanding officer dead, the plates taken by rogue soldiers of fortune, and this “A-Team” framed for a crime they did not commit. With nothing left to lose, The A-Team sets out to clear their name, avenge their C.O.’s death, and have a lot of fun doing it.
Considering that this movie is based on a popular (but somewhat cheesy) action show of the 80’s, this big screen adaptation of The A-Team is a passable summer action movie. It certainly fulfills most of the criteria: It is full of loud explosives and gunfire, and extremely light on story and character development. The dialogue is mildly entertaining, but the actors do all that they can to elevate script.
My hand goes out to Liam Neeson, who makes even the most thankless role of Hannibal (whose main purpose is to smoke a cigar and look cool doing it) not only appear to be a cool character but feel like one as well. This goes double for Cooper and his portrayal of Face. Cooper owns every scene he is in and exudes this suaveness that makes him the perfect “face” for this movie. Extra points go to Sharlto Copley, from last year’s hit District 9. If anyone is having a good time making this movie, it is Copley who hits every comedic beat he is given and then some.
Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson also provide their services as supporting characters in this action-packed romp. Biel, who does very little but looks good and angry at the same time as Captain Carissa Sosa, is pretty much a window dressing in this film. Given her previous role in Blade 3, would it have killed the producers to give her some action scenes? She is more than capable of pulling off a fight scene or two.
Wilson fares slightly better as mysterious CIA agent Lynch. Oozing with a frat boy-like cockiness, Wilson really does pull of the role as the film’s official big bad guy. It is too bad the script takes too long to establish this face and is filled with so many red herrings that by the time the audience is clued in, most of his performance is lost in all the background noise.
One thing that did surprise me is the direction by Joe Carnahan. I was not wildly impressed by his previous movie, Smokin’ Aces, but the one thing it had going for it was the action sequences. They were wildly kinetic and exciting but for the A-Team, the direction was less than such. Carnahan’s decision to shoot some of the action sequences in a single handheld camera made the action scenes feel closed off and confusing. Even some of the larger action set pieces feel oddly boring, with the exception of the flying tank scene shown in parts in the trailer.
In the end, The A-Team movie is loud, fun, and easily forgettable the day after you watch it. Given the material that it was given from the TV series, I can’t imagine a better big screen adaptation than this one (fans of the original series take note: You might want to stick around till after the credits roll). So while the movie will not help save us from the summer movie dread, it more than does its job in helping us forget about it for a little while.