So they made The A-Team
into a movie, and they didn't screen that movie for critics until after our press deadlines, and then we didn't get around to reviewing it until just now (more accurately, the senior editors got distracted by a foosball table), and so by now you've probably already seen it twice and this review is of no use to you, thanks very much. But here it is:
WW Critic's Score:
“They specialize in the ridiculous,” says Jessica Biel's Army captain at the onset of the new incarnation of The A-Team
. Boy howdy, she isn't joking. Over the course of two hours, the newly amped-up team manages to get into a helicopter chase and a high-speed freeway pursuit, parachute a tank out of a helicopter, rappel down a skyscraper, hijack an AC-130 gunship, sink an oil tanker and blow up enough cars to give Schwarzenegger a run for his money.
Which is to say The A-Team
is what everybody expects it to be—a big, loud, dumb-ass romp from start to finish. The popcorn flick jumps immediately into action with a Mexican prison break and doesn't let off the throttle for the majority of its running time, with the boys trying to clear their names after a group of Blackwater-type security thugs frames them for whacking a general and stealing some counterfeiting equipment in Iraq.
As with the iconic, cartoonish 1980s TV series, the entire appeal of The A-Team
rests on its characters, and the film version couldn't be more perfectly cast. As leader Hannibal, Liam Nesson is spot-on in his cigar-chomping gruffness. Leading-man-in-training Bradley Cooper brings his Hangover
swagger to the role of the libidinous Face, while ultimate fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson ably fills the Mohawk of Mr. T, grunting about fools and fear of flying between pummelings. The standout, though, is District 9
star Sharlto Copley, who instills in his “Howling Mad” Murdock a strange mix of lunacy and charisma that recalls One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
's McMurphy with an added dose of ADHD.
But the movie's still a pretty mixed bag. Director Joe Carnahan knows how to film madcap action—as he proved with the insanely violent guilty pleasure Smokin' Aces
—but ditches all the control he showed with the brooding Narc
. The director handles the more traditional car chases and fights with control, but as the action grows in size, he succumbs to the Michael Bay school of herky-jerky camera work that leaves audiences befuddled.
Which isn't to say that's out of the spirit of The A-Team
, especially when Neeson grumbles “overkill is underrated” near the climactic showdown, then proceeds to maim everything in sight. The A-Team
can be a tasty bucket of braindead popcorn, and it knows its audience pretty well. We don't want deep plots or gritty, realistic action. We want cartoony violence, bromance, big-ass ‘splosions and a few lingering shots of Biel's well-formed posterior, and the film delivers all in spades. Unlike the spring's utterly useless The Losers
—a comic-book misfire that's almost a carbon clone of The A-Team
, right down to a skyscraper heist, a ship yard showdown and character archetypes—Carnahan's film never takes itself remotely seriously, rushing from gag to gag with the urgency of a 12-year-old with a pack of firecrackers and a stash of old Hot Wheels. The cast brings its A game to a C+ affair, saving The A-Team
from jumbled mediocrity with a gallery of self-aware, shit-eating grins. PG-13.
Opens today at Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century at Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99 Stadium 11, Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18&IMAX, Cinetopia, City Center Stadium 12, Cornelius 9 Cinemas, Division Street Stadium 13, Evergreen Parkway Stadium 13, Hilltop 9 Cinema, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Center Stadium 10 Cinema, Movies On TV Stadium 16, Oak Grove 8 Cinemas, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sandy Cinemas, Sherwood Stadium 10, St. Johns Twin Cinemas and Pub, Tigard 11 Cinemas, Wilsonville Stadium 9 Cinema.