Review: B Minus for ‘The A-Team’

The new film sticks with the flow of its predecessor.


Based on the popular 1980’s television series, The A-Team is back in full force. The new film, directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces), works as an entertaining diversion, meandering between comedy and action film. However, there are several (rather deep) potholes.

The original TV series follows a secret co-op of Vietnam veterans who become war criminals for “a crime they didn’t commit”. Fighting for what is good and right, the team, consisting of Murdock, B.A. Baracus, Faceman, and Hannibal, use far-fetched schemes and elaborate contraptions to aid the oppressed of the world. Also noteworthy is the massive merchandising campaign the show launched, complete with action figures, t-shirts, and lunchboxes.

The new film sticks with the flow of its predecessor. The plot revolves around the foursome (modernized to veterans of the Iraq War) reviving their good names after they are framed for war crimes following a covert mission and dishonorably discharged. Of course, the only way to achieve justice is to blow up a bunch of stuff. I predict fewer lunchboxes will result.

The casting of The A-Team works remarkably well, for the most part. The chemistry between the action heroes is tangible, and each of the characters is animated and interesting. Perhaps the most notable is Murdock, played by Sharlto Copley, of District 9 fame. Copley plays the eccentric pilot with an energetic force that stands out even amongst the comically charged Bradley Cooper (Face) and always-respectable Liam Neeson (Hannibal).

Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper

However, the role of Sgt. B.A. Baracas, a role that helped cement the stardom of Mr. T in the 1980’s television series, is comparatively lackluster in the new film. Often introspective and quiet, Baracas (played by mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) comes off as more of a gentle giant than the prominent and confrontational icon the character is known for.

Perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is the manner in which the film was shot and edited. Frequent use of hand held cameras and short shot lengths addle the movie. During a number of the action sequences, the quick cuts and constant camera motion are used to match the tempo of the action. Unfortunately, this technique only distracts from the film, as it is often difficult to comprehend exactly what is happening.

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However, the film succeeds in being entertaining, and it is often very funny. Stereotypes of action films are drawn upon heavily, but self-consciously. The movie never tries to be anything it’s not. Sure, the movie proceeds with outrageous disregard for the laws of physics. Of course every enemy has the marksmanship of a blind storm trooper. And, yes, many of the stunts are implausible and unnecessary. Were you expecting anything else?



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