The A-Team

The A-Team | Action | rated PG-13 (A, L,V) | starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel | directed by Joe Carnahan | 1:59 mins

Under the leadership of the ever-resourceful John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson), an Alpha squad of Rangers develops a reputation for pulling off elaborate, ridiculous plans to get the job done. Along with pretty boy, Face (Bradley Cooper), muscle B.A. (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and certifiably insane pilot Murdoch (Sharlto Copley), the team is recruited to recover plate molds used to counterfit millions of American dollars. When the group is double-crossed, framed, stripped of their rank and imprisoned for treason, they strike back attempting to clear their names, recover the plates and expose the conspiracy that took them down.

Having not seen two episodes of 80s maestro Stephen J. Cannell’s original series I came to The A-Team movie adaption pretty fresh. Was Murdoch really insane? Did Face really get all the women? Was B.A. really afraid of flying? Apparently that’s all accurate to the series. Traversing a time span that starts with the team’s first mission together and through the double-cross that set up the original series premise, A-Team comes equipped with a story that re-formats to fit the big screen well instead of feeling like another episode of the show.

And the cartoonish action sequences? Yep, that’s a mark of the series too, here pulled off with screen painted with the message board nerd’s dreaded CGI. Even so the action sequences are pretty solid. As about the only person in the world that liked Smokin’ Aces, I eagerly awaited Joe Carnahan’s next bombastic actionfest. The A-Team is just that. It is pretty mindless, shallow and forgettable entertainment, but it is a fun watch. Carnahan is as macho and hyper-stylized as Michael Bay, but he can hold the camera still instead of chopping the action to ribbons with over edits and a shakey camera. And some of the situations the team finds themselves in are rather creative, none better than when they take refuge in a tank when their plane is blown out of the sky and fall to Earth in it.

Does Face really go through a maturing story arc or is that just an attempt to get Bradley Cooper to the forefront post-Hangover? ATeam is well cast. “Rampage” Jackson looks and acts just like Mr. T. Sharlto Copley proves remarkable in a completely different role than what we first saw him in District 9. The plot, however, is totally convoluted. An unecessarily complex mess of double-crosses on double-crosses between a Department of Defense Agent (Jessica Biel), the CIA and the military with everyone using and abusing the resourcefulness of the A-Team.

The A-Team is apparently a solid adaptation of the series and that strength is also it’s greatest weakness as an action movie. The cartoonish violence of the show translates to a movie that never raises the pulse in terms of excitement. The plans are fun, but the stakes are fairly low and we never feel like the team is up against a situation they can’t handle. The movie is completely empty. Shallow, disposable eye-candy, but agreeable eye candy. And not just because Jessica Biel is in it. Though that always helps.

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