The A-Team Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

the a team review The A Team Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews The A-Team

It’s been a fairly weak 2010 summer movie season… Iron Man 2 was OK but didn’t live up to the first film, Nightmare on Elm Street was mediocre at best, some folks liked Robin Hood (although it’s not what I’d call summer movie fare), Get Him to the Greek had its moments but was no Hangover and despite trying hard, The Losers was, well, a loser. At least we had Kick-Ass

So while there hasn’t been anything that you could really call a summer popcorn movie home run, I’m here to tell you that The A-Team comes pretty darn close.

I’m sure most of you know that The A-Team was a kitschy action TV series that ran in the mid-1980s. It starred George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Shultz and Mr. T as an ex-special forces team falsely accused of a crime and on the run from the government. It featured over-the-top action and fight scenes which were defined by signature camera shots (Mr. T launching a body over the camera which filmed from below) and an emphatic lack of injuries despite the extreme nature of the stunts.

Many folks have fond memories of the show and may be predisposed to accusations of “you ruined my childhood” or “you’re soiling the memory of a classic!” For those of you thinking that, I invite you to go back and watch an episode or two today, and then get back to me with your fresh reaction. Sure, it was fun. It was also completely cheesy and formulaic. When a filmmaker decides to approach a project like this he has two choices:

1. Go in a completely different direction (for example turn a serious TV show into a comedy or vice versa).

2. Be as faithful to the spirit of the original as is practical.

With The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan went with a whole lot of #2 and just a touch of #1.

Unexpectedly, the film opens before the team has assembled, with only Hannibal (a cigar-chomping Liam Neeson) and “Face” (the studly and often shirtless Bradley Cooper) knowing each other and working together. During an operation in Mexico they meet B.A. Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson) and Murdock (District 9′s Sharlto Copley).

Unlike the opening scene in The Losers, which tried to establish a connection between the characters as well as between them and the audience (and failed miserably), the first 15 minutes or so here do it admirably. Once it’s done, it’ll remind you of a very extended James Bond opening sequence – a way to transition you into the film. Immediately we “get” Hannibal, Face, Murdock and even Baracus after each of their introductory scenes, and it doesn’t take long to cement the relationships via great chemistry and snappy dialog.

After the initial meetings (with a number of great action scenes right off the bat), we cut to eight years later, nearing the end of American troops being stationed in Iraq. The “Alpha Team” members have been the go-to guys to get the really tricky and nigh-impossible missions done. Right here is where the story gets a bit muddled, with Army Captain Sosa (Jessica Beil) arriving to tell Face (with whom she has “history”) very explicitly to not go on a mission to Bagdhad to retrieve stolen plates for the printing of U.S. dollars. The concern of course is that terrorists will be able to print billions of dollars of “unbacked” currency (like our currency is currently backed? But I digress…). She is tasked with retrieving the plates using a private mercenary outfit called Black Forest.

Hannibal has no confidence or respect for them and a CIA operative plays into that lack of confidence, wanting the A-Team to retrieve the plates instead of Black Forest. Hannibal convinces the on-site General (Gerald McRaney), who is an old friend, to let them go on the mission.

Hannibal concocts an insanely over-the-top plan that of course goes off without a hitch (and gives us the next crazy action set piece), but in the aftermath things go wrong via a doublecross and the team is falsely accused and convicted of being involved in the theft of the plates. The members of the team are all shipped off to different high security military prisons. Of course Hannibal vows to make those who really stole the plates pay and to recover them, and with the help of the CIA operative (who you KNOW has his own agenda, of course) he breaks out and gets his comrades out of prison (Murdock’s escape was particularly funny).

The combined escape brings us to the scene you’ve seen in the trailer with a tank falling from the sky with a parachute and Face shooting a 50 cal gun. I’m here to tell you that scene is crazy-awesome. icon smile The A Team Review

From there it’s all about getting to the bottom of exactly who is behind all this, where the leader of Black Forest is and how to retrieve the plates and deliver them to the Federal government in order to clear their names.

Are there things to complain about with the film? Sure. Shakey-cam. It’s not “deep” or “complex,” the third act bogs down a bit and is somewhat convoluted with a final action sequence where the director seems to have said “We have to make this big. No, you don’t understand, I mean BIG. HUGE. MEGA-GIGANTIC,” and frankly I thought it was a bit much. I thought Biel’s character’s motivation was pretty damned weak, but they try to have it make some sense later on (not very successfully). Oh, and as far as her acting… she’s REALLY gorgeous.

But you know what?

This movie was FUN.

I found myself grinning through much of it and laughing out loud more than once. There was plenty of action, the chemistry between the characters was great and I thought representative of the original series, Liam Neeson was an excellent Hannibal and Sharlto Copley was fantastic as Murdock. Bradley Cooper was fine as Face – he’ll appeal to the ladies in the audience, especially with his gratuitous shirtless scenes. And I’m going to say it: I thought Quinton Jackson did an OK job as B.A. Baracus. It’s not a terribly complex role, and I’m sorry but Mr. T wasn’t exactly doing Shakespearean acting during his stint in the role. Oh, and I really enjoyed Brian Bloom as Pike, the leader of Black Forest. Acted like he came right off the set of Goodfellas.

There aren’t a lot of movies that you can actually label as “fun,” but if there is any genre (if you can call it a genre) that SHOULD fit that label it’s summer action movies. Sadly, not a lot of those films actually earn that label despite trying overtly to attain it. Star Trek was another film to which I’d apply that label. I’d say last year’s The Hangover as well (which also starred Cooper).

For the parents out there, while there is some violence that’s definitely PG-13 in the film, much of it is “cartoony” and played for laughs (ending is a little rough, I don’t think I’d bring kids under 8 or 10). The only nudity to speak of is a shirtless Cooper. I only mention this because Mr. T has been complaining about the violence and nudity in the film.

While some are bashing The A-Team, I give it an unabashed recommendation as a fun summer popcorn movie.

Here’s another look at the trailer for the film to help you decide.

[poll id="50"]

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

TAGS: 4 star movies, the a-team

84 Comments

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  1. One thing I was waiting for but it never happened was the buttermilk trick. Anyone remember that from the TV show? BA refuses to get in the plane, Face hands him some buttermilk, “I love buttermilk”, cut to BA asleep on the plane.

    Maybe I made that one up, I don’t know.

  2. And people wonder why we have such horrible films being made. This movie is litterally made with the exact same formula as Transformers and GI Joe not only based on 80s crap but the same tone and style. If we don’t hold higher standards for our films we will continue to get more crap. When u watch a movie next time and think “how did this get made it’s terrible why didn’t some one stop them.” Reflect on this when the publics likes some truly bad films studios begin to think they can release any crap they want because the audience is so unpredictable.

    • Daniel… is there any more you _do_ like? Yes, this is cheesy, yes this is cornball. Here’s a secret: It’s supposed to be!

      • haHA

    • It’s funny you say that, after watching the trailer I was totally reminded of that GI Joe movie. It’s just MORE of the same ridiculous childish cartoon-like digital animation…COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY! The real A-team never had to use that crap- I don’t get why Hollywood always insists on going over the edge with these ridiculous obviously computer animated shots of people and objects flying all over the place like off of buildings and swinging through the air. It looks so absurd and insulting to my intelligence ESPECIALLY when I grew up watching REAL people doing the same things in actual stunts. It’s like they think standards don’t matter anymore because the average American adult moviegoer is just some idiot with a 4th grade comprehension level. But you know what, I’m glad they do it because now people like YOU and me are challenged to go out and make a better movie ourselves. Seriously, I believe that this rise in CGI is only propagating mainstream Hollywood’s demise causing people to be even more open minded to independant films.

      • Might have a thing to do with insurance companies not allowing for certain stunts. And it’s also cheaper… If they have trouble making a profit now, if they would have done all of the stunts for real, they would have an even harder time…

  3. Smirk-Mode On >. 8-O
    Daniel your argument reflects my points on 3D films. Now you see how were both outnumbered by what you call, “the Publics.”
    ^
    Here’s a great quote from Rimmer (Red Dwarf): “Back in the 21st century they laughed at freaks all the time. They used to have tv shows on Saturday nights where they’d get out all the freaks, make them sing and dance and then point and laugh at them. Simple people, simple tastes.”
    ^
    Now you know how it feels Daniel to be surrounded by the will of the Publics!

    The real tragedy this weekend is “Karate Kid” made over 50 million. That means everyone that paid to see KK just turned Jaden Smith (overnight) into the biggest star in American.

    Congrats!!! Not only have we seen the passing of the $cientology torch/bloodline, now watch as Jaden and 3D takeover the world of cinema… ;-)

    • Considering what the price of a dollar is now to what it was in the 80′s hes actually not that big a star :-p

  4. This movie was AWESOME! Easily the best film so far this summer, and that’s a tall order next to Kick Ass.

    I have to admit, I had my doubts, especially about Rampage transitioning from the UFC to the big screen, but I was really impressed with his performance. Face was cast well, and Liam Neeson is good no matter where you put him. But I thought the show stealer in all this was the District 9 guy that played Murdock. What a riot!

    The action sequences in this film were second to none, and the only weak link I found in it all was Jessica Biel. She just didn’t seem right for the role she was in. She’s fine as wine, but I think that part could have been better filled by someone else.

    On a seperate note to Rampage Jackson…if you read this by some freak chance…

    Piss on the UFC, and Dana White. Why fight for $35000 bucks a fight, and get hammered, and have to work for that arrogant punk, when you can do this for 1.5 million a pop, never have to get hurt, and can do it for a long, long time? Go big, bro. I’m pulling for you no matter what.

  5. 790 I think you mean Jadan, 3D , and the 80′s. I agree as terrible as this film is it is a by far larger tragedy that KKid made that much money. I think the Will Smith attatchment to the project that made the money also the MTV award segmant with Tom Cruise.

  6. Note Daniel, those folks are all in the cult known as $cientology.

    I’m sure Jaden’s going to do what ever his papa tells him and that includes joining the cult. At least if he ever wakes up, he can use karate on the guards as he tries to escape the church compound.

  7. Umm Smith is not a scientologist

    • Yeah. He totally is

  8. Uh yeah Smith and his wife are both members. Its just not reported or talked about Daniel.

    • When it comes down to it, this was a serious knockdown dragout fight between two 80s brand names and brand recognition.

      Now this is just me from where im at at the moment, but they advertised the hell outta KKid more than they did A-team (I’m in Clarksville TN visiting family btw). When it came time for opening night, what did you see more ads for? Some cute kid and Jackie Chan in a heart warming tale of underdog glory OR 4 grown men playing soldier and blowing stuff up in awsome ways.

      Yes Karate Kid was deceptive in its advertising by having nothing to do with Karate. They abused the brand name in order to rip acouple more dollars outta parents hands. But when you go up against Marmaduke its hard not to be the leader for the week.

      A-team however is a movie that just sweats machismo and is a movie for guys made by guys and is not something ladies would willingly go see (unless they have a thing for Cooper). Yes the original was corny and really hasn’t aged well. but the fact that they did a loop-de-loop with a helicopter during a dog fight and flew a tank through the air in order to reach safety is just pure awsome. If they had put A-Team out any other week, it would have sweeped the box offices.*

      *Edit: actually im looking at rotten tomatoes and this week would have been horrible http://www.rottentomatoes.com/movies/opening.php Toy Story 3 and Johna Hex would have killed A-team. A-team is the perfect 4th of July weekend movie when things start getting stupid hot here in Tennessee and people need to cool down.

      • LOL, Jonah Hex wouldn’t have done anything to the A-Team. Toy Story 3 on the other hand, would have slaughtered it. Jonah Hex is a big dud, it opened in like 5th or 6th place. Pathetic…

  9. I really loved this movie. I think my favorite scene has to be Murdock’s breakout from the psyche ward in Germany. GENIOUS! :-D

    In this movie, I have to say that Murdock is my absolute favorite character. Its nice to see Sharlto Copley again on screen. The guy has a really good feel for comedy and timing. Quinton Jackson was pretty good and I’m actually surprised that he is as competent an actor as he is.

  10. I just can’t believe how many negative reviews and comments I’m seeing all over the place about this movie except for SCreenRant.com where at least a good number seem to like the A-TEAM film. The piece at BoxOffiCeMojo ripped on A-Team so bad you’d think it that no one saw the movie this past weekend.

    While I was in the theatre everyone or at least almost everyone was laughing and laughing hard throughout the film. I loved the movie and look forward to a sequel because it is a great summer popcorn film where you can laugh and enjoy the action without having to follow a complex plot line. Not that there’s anything wrong with an INCEPTION or SHUTTER ISLAND like story, you just sometimes want something easy to go on.

    • The internet is nothing but a perpetual stupid machine powered by aggregation sites like rotten tomatoes. It brings out the natural lemmings in people

      • Sooo…. I take it you didn’t like A-Team?

        Vic

        • John,

          Ignore my previous comment, I see above that you did indeed enjoy the movie. :)

          Vic

          • LOL its fine. I have to say that I had alot of fun at A-team. A good number of the films this year look like they are going to be pretty good. Im really looking forward to Tron tho. :-P

            oh vic what did you think of Sharlato Copley in this film? Do you think we will start seeing more of him?

            • Copley was awesome. I hope we see more of him in upcoming films.

              Vic

      • yeah, Rottentomatoes has a pretty bad rating – I’m really surprised.

  11. Anyone else gettinga weird white box on the screen while viewing pages on ScreenRant.com? I see a white box that is fixed (does not move swhen I scroll the page) and it has Tweets, Facebook Shares logo and Google Buz logo on the left side of the white box.

    I’m uising IE 7 (refuse to let IE8 crash my system).

    I usually use Firefox but I’m still at work so I’m using IE.

    • I’m using IE 8 and actually find it faster than IE 7, and it’s very stable too, most of the time when people complain about some website crashing their browser, it loads fine for me, so…

  12. @BCC

    That’s a new feature I added to make it easier to share our articles on various social sites. The way it’s set up it shouldn’t interfere with the content at all, it should be off to the side.

    Vic

  13. I’m renting remakes/rehashes out of principle and apparently I’m not the only one; It’s only made 24 mil domestically with a 150 mil production budget.

    But with a 4 outta 5 rating maybe it’s got legs..

  14. Sharlto Copley rules! That´s all :-)

  15. I thought the movie was awsome. They made murdock crazier then he was in the show. The only thing I though was a dissapointment was the fact that they destroyed the van before the title even came on the screen. I also liked the fact that we finaly found out why B.A doesn’t like flying.

  16. I loved it, i laughed and laughed at Mad Murdock, and it was great everything, the tank flying, oh my no wonder BA totally cant handle flying. I loved the chopper chase, it had all the elements, Well Liamo you done us irish proud in the A team. God I love it when a plan comes together Miko, Liam you done us lads a great service. Bringing back films for a lads night out.. I hope there is more A team films, i just hope they don’t A Team 1234 I hope they do it like the bond films no numbers just a title. I think when you have number it sort of ruins it a bit and the pressure is on then. I am looking forward to seen what could be next in the A team films,,

  17. The plot is simplistic and borrowed from other action films, the stunts and effects are way over the top, the action level is bordering on ludicrous…and if they made ten more A-Team films just like this I would watch EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    • I can’t believe this movie did so poorly at the box office, what happened?? I watched it in the theater and just about everyone in the theater was going crazy during the action scenes, everyone seemed to not just like the movie, but LOVED it, seriously, people were bursting out in uncontrollable laughter at some of the jokes and sequences, people were literally jumping out of their seat at the flying tank sequence, I swear after it ended I heard several people yell out compliments like “That was awesome!” and stuff like that. While I don’t yell out during movies, I was very close to it several times too, the movie was just a blast to watch, I can’t wait to watch it again, but hopes for a sequel are dead due to how poorly this movie did in the box office… I really hope word-of-mouth is good enough so the DVD/Blu-Ray sales are just incredible and they decide to make another one…

      “I’m not worried, if I was worried I would be nailing myself to this container!” Of course he was saying this WHILE nailing himself to the container, lmao! :-D I don’t care what the haters say, this movie was tons of fun.

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