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. This is very much like how I felt about the film. Decent acting, good humor, crazy action (in a good way). It’s silly, yes, but the movie actually knows that and plays under that label. Even though I never saw the series, I enjoyed it for what it was except for the horrible shaky cam. So, 3.5/5 for me.

    • I loved the movie hope they make the sequal it is way better than that stupit dukes of hazzard movie they made a few years back or the new freddy kruger i plan on going and seeing THE A – Team again it was was perfect.

  2. nice review vic
    me and the guys where abit unsure about it (the helicopter and tank scenes where abit over the top). but now i feel like it is going to be ‘fun’ :P

    just one question: is there alot of physical violence/shooting or is it just shoot – cut to cam before you see guy get shot or punch in face the cut to guy on floor style action ?

    • It was on the mid to high range of PG-13 violence, not the low side. So not big on cutaways, no.

      Vic

  3. Loved the movie, but found myself to be the only person laughing at the press screening. Maybe they were all snobby film critics, but I felt like a moron. Yet, I considered them the morons for not laughing.

    How can you not laugh hysterically at everything Sharlto Copley does. The man is a born comedian.

  4. Was there anything after the end credits that we should look for or…?

    • Yes, definitely be sure to wait around for after the credits …

  5. Good, huh? I’m surprised. Maybe I will check it out.

  6. Wow, I was kind of unsure about this, but my friends all planned on seeing it tomorrow, well, today actually, and now I’m looking forward to it…

  7. So it seems as a watcher of the A-Team it lives up to the name, but having never seen the series, are too many references and in-jokes preventing someone like me from enjoying the movie?

    • Nope, you’ll be fine.

  8. Fun is exactly what a summer blockbuster should , I will be seeing this for sure.

  9. This isn’t out in the uk until 30th July, that’s nearly 2 months later than US, that makes me very angry!!!!

    I thought that sort of nonsense didn’t happen anymore!!!!!!!

    Me no like, bad medicine

    • I feel sorry for you man, this movie was indeed fun. It is not a movie to be taken seriously, I was basically laughing my ass off watching this movie, it was hilarious. Funny since “Get Him to the Greek” is “comedy” while this one is action, yet this movie is about 1000 times funnier than GHTTG, which was just downright retarded. We were literally just sitting there quietly, not laughing at all throughout that entire movie. But this movie is different, it’s just so insane that you can’t help but crack up. I think you’ll enjoy it, as long as you don’t try to take any of it seriously…

  10. That’s a hell of alot of critisim and negatives for a 4 star film.

    I’m very unsure everything I’ve seen and heard about it lead ne to think it’s just more garbage like GI Joe and Transformers some of the worst blockbusters of the decade. However, I trust Vic and we disagree from time to time we rarely if ever have a major gap in taste. I guess based on this Review I’ll watch this today before 6 of course cheap tickets before 6 lol. I was planning on watching Get Him to the Greek again which I loved and wanted to take a buddy to. I’ll go with the A team Vic. Fingures crossed I’ll enjoy it but I’m still unsure because u listed alot of negative things for giving it a four star. Part of me is worried u ignored the quality of the film a bit and based ur rating with to high a influence from nastalgia. We will see

    • Daniel,

      I expect a lot of flack for my review. Sure, one can pick it apart technically but my rating is based on the overall experience this promised and delivered for me. I’d have no problem going and seeing it again this weekend.

      Vic

      • the way I described it to someone, ‘lots of silly fun’ – actually a great mix of action and humor (although Murdock got a tad old a parts, but I wouldn’t complain)

    • Wow, I’m glad I’m not your “buddy” for you to drag to see that retarded movie… I already have my girlfriend to thank for that. I know we will disagree once again, but Get Him to the Greek was about the dumbest most retarded movie I’ve seen all year so far… All of the characters were annoying, the gags were not funny, and the story was very uninteresting to me. I laughed at 3 parts in the entire movie… One of them was P Diddy’s text message “Where the f— are you? I’m gonna kill you! *happy face!*” Yah, pretty sad when that’s the funniest scene in a movie… Funniest thing is that even m girlfriend who isn’t annoyed by those characters didn’t think the movie was funny. So at least for once we agreed on a movie, haha. Usually her and I are opposite in our taste in movies. :-D

  11. It looks pretty good to me. I liked the TV show when i was in my teens, but since then its become obvious that it just wasn’t very good. It wasn’t the combination of action and humor, its more that it was bad action comedy. This on the other hand looks far more professionally done so yep, i’ll be watching it.

  12. Funny about the A-team pic up top. All the actors are looking towards where they are running to and you have Rampage Jackson running with them but looking at the camera. LOL

  13. Thanks Vic im going to see this movie this weekend. Rampage plays a good BA. Pity the fool

  14. Is there any bonus stuff post Credits that would make it worth staying thru the credits?

    • @BCC

      While I didn’t stick around to the end of the credits, I’ve heard that there IS a scene at the end. So yeah, stick around.

      Vic

      • Yeah, I missed that scene too. Hate when that happens, but it just didn’t occur to me there would be something post-credits.

        • It was just homage to the old show.

          **SPOILER**

          All it was, was Face walking into that tanning room again, and someone gets out of one of the tanning beds, and Face asks about this tanning lotion and asks what is best for the face, and then you see the guy he’s talking to is actually the original Face. Then you see Murdoch getting electroshock therapy, and while he’s getting ready for it, you see the original Murdoch dressed as a doctor talking to another doctor asking what kind of crazy he thinks this Murdoch is.

          Mr. T wasn’t featured or anything, what a party pooper…

          • Well he is a christian and cant really be knocked for not wanting to be in the movie…he said it was too violent and you gotta respect him in that much. the man has principles.

  15. the camera ruined everything for me :( not only where there alot of quick cuts but the camera was to close up on the action, and was shaky at times.
    i give this a 2.5/5 only because of the bad camera wo0rk, everything else (apart from originality of story) where perfect.

    • agreed 100%. the “shaky cam” was WAY too over the top, but it was hardly a movie-killer. otherwise i have nothing bad to say about it. 2.5 is a little harsh for me; i will give it 4 stars. this was everything GIJOE and transformers should have been. if you’re on the fence, please consider this your green light to go out and have a great night at the theater! i’m on board for a sequel.

      • Okay, I freakin’ _hate_ shakey cam… Vomitfi- errr I mean Cloverfield made me almost skip Star Trek, and Paul Greengrass need to be crucified (you know, in a kind way) for that crap they call Bourne movies. Best shows I never saw because I was busy throwing up in my popcorn bucket… All that said, I did not find the quick cuts in A-Team that distracting, it was surely a lot better than Clover-joke or Bourne.

        Boy I just can’t wait for JJ to give us Super 8, how much you bet it’s gonna “make you feel like you were there”? /shudder.

  16. Yea Vic I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with u this much on a film. Losers was not great, but I found it better than this. All the problems you pointed out are there and were simply glairimg errors they were huge problems I would also add that Rampage was Terrible granted Mr T was never talented , but that was a horrible attempt at acting reminding me of Shaqs attempt.

    • Daniel,

      I figured you’d probably end up disagreeing with me. You’d probably best avoid Karate Kid as well. :)

      Vic

    • You saw glaring mistakes in this but the Losers was simply “not great?” The Losers was one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year. Horrible…

  17. Lol believe me there was never any hope of me watching Karate kid lol.

  18. i might go se it, still on the fence about this one. the one show they should make a movie from is Riptide lol. long live the Screaming Meme

  19. Seen It, it is an Awesome summertime popcorn film.
    Lots of action, fun etc. Long Live the A-Team.
    There is no Plan B.

    • Just seen it (Sydney, AU) – and couldn’t agree more Keith. terrific summer movie.

  20. Vic do they pay homage to all the one liners and is there action scene rock music like the tv show?

    Hey Ken congrats on you getting a girlfriend. ;-)

  21. Agree with the entire thing Vic. I didn’t really expect much coming into it, but after leaving the theater I feel this is my favorite summer movie to date and can only be topped by Toy Story 3 and Inception. I thought the acting was great (Copley in particular, Jackson was decent considering MMA is his main profession). Although I would disagree with you about the third act being too much. I thought the whole “which crate are they in?” plot to bring down the bad guys was great and it was just frantic as the parachuting tank sequence or the helicopter missile evasion in the opening act. I also liked the way how Neeson/Cooper(at the end) revealed the plan and the next shot was showing the team executing it. Great, fun, popcorn movie and a great reveiw to boot. Nicely done

  22. This was one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long time, and I predict Murdock to be the fan favorite by far, amazing character and it was amazingly done by Copley.

  23. Loved A Team! Had a few holes, but the chemistry and action was excellent.

  24. Sorry Ken I’ve seen the film already didn’t like it. Losers had it’s problems, but no one in it was a horrible actor the same can not be said for The A Team. The film was riddled with convoluted plots, smatterings of bad acting poor dialogue , cheesy references to the original show and over the top ridiculious action. I’ll admit I laughed at one or two parts but that’s it most of my time was spent rolling my eyes at how poorly this film was put together. I was shocked at how much I hated this film given Vics 4 stars but it was a dreadful peace of garbage. Any one who hates movies like Transformers or the FF franchise should dislike this film. If you like Transformers 2 u would probably like this. I hated the first Transfirmers but even that was better than The A Team it’s about equal to the sequal… See what I did there with the rhyme oh I lol at my self sometimes….. But I digress. I do not like this film I do not like it in a box I do not like it with a fox I do not like this film I do not like it Ken .. Kind of lost the flow a bit at the end there. Anyway Ken Im sorry it’s just not for me… Ok that one was in accident I swear. I’m in a good mood season 5 of 24 is awesome. I wish I hadn’t read spoilers and seen how they ruin Tony in the years to come.

    • Sorry, but I thought almost everyone in The Losers was very poor in acting. Even Zoe Saldana, and you know I like her, but her acting was very sub par in that movie. And she did fine in Star Trek and Avatar so I know she is capable, but it was like she wasn’t even acting. The others were even worse… Especially the villain… The closest to an OK performance was the leader of the group, but even him, wasn’t that good at all.

      I didn’t like Transformers at all, either one of them. Mainly because of Megan Fox and her complete inablity to act her way out of a wet paper bag and the way Shia LeGoof acts the same way in every movie he’s in….

  25. How much is Gerald McRaney in the movie please someone?? THANKS!

    • he’s in it? why lol

    • Not a whole lot. Don’t base your attendance on his screen time. Spoilers thread (if there is one yet) will be able to talk more about his role.

      • im not gonna base my attendance on that, i think he might have gotten a role in it because he too was an 80′s tv staple….

  26. GASP how dare you speak Ill of JDM sir. I’m flabergasted. This is an outrage my good man.

  27. “Iron Man 2 was OK but didn’t live up to the first film”.
    WRONG: Iron Man 2 was SUPERIOR than the first one.

    “Nightmare on Elm Street was mediocre”.
    CORRECT: Wes Craven’s Nightmare was the BEST and a classic.

    The A Team movie is awesome, it really remembers the classic TV series, hear those classic words again: “I love it when a plan comes together”, was fantastic. For all the fans of the classic series its really worth watching, the best adaptation from a TV series, much better than that ridiculous adaptation of Charlie’s Angels.

  28. I’d agree with this view on A-Team. Definitely stay after the credits guys and gals, no spoilers, but if you’re a fan of the original you _need_ to let ‘em roll. This show is crazy, silly, over-the-top, scary-awesome. I enjoyed myself from the first lit cigar to the last “I love it when a plan comes together!”

    And Mr T is too buys throwing Mohawk grenades in WoW (and maybe hanging out with Bill Shatner) to have a valid POV :-P Rampage ain’t a stellar actor, but the man never makes me doubt his character, even when he’s trying to be serious.

    My big complaint? Bull-shots in the trailer. 2 notable quotes and moments famously rolling around in the trailers aren’t in the movie, just like IM2′s “chase the helmet” scene. I hate crap like that. You show me a trailer, you’re _promising_ me that this scene _will_ be in the movie. Dammit.

    I agree with Michael above here a bit, Iron Man 2 was every bit as good as the first one. There characters were at different stages than in IM1, and I keep seeing write-ups that complain that they aren’t identical to IM1… ‘course I’m a total fanboy for the show too so don’t expect anything even remotely unbiased from me :)

    • ehh still havent seen IM2 yet, dunno if i am, recasting actors for sequels just flags movies for me, although it doenst happen too often i guess.

  29. vic, the complaining that you mentioned mr. t was doing about the violence and nudity lol. was the violence in the film more extreme in the movie compared to the tv show?

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