The A-Team are an elite military quartet with a reputation for concocting daring and elaborate plans that get the job done. After being set up by another group who are even more covert than they are, the team go on the run to prove their innocence. In this new film the A-Team characters from the original 1980s television series have been updated from Vietnam veterans to Iraq war veterans but they are still essentially the same group of guys.
Liam Neeson is the group’s leader Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith while Bradley Cooper is the smooth talking charmer Lieutenant Templeton “Face” Peck. Sharlto Copley from District 9 provides the most laughs as the crazy helicopter pilot Captain HM Murdock but unfortunately mixed martial arts fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a let down as BA Baracus mainly because of his poor enunciation. When Baracus is engaging in “witty banter” with the rest of the team it would be far more entertaining if we could understand more of what he is saying other than the occasional “I pity the fool!”
Like the original television series the action is still completely over-the-top with plenty of outlandish scenes that defy the laws of physics and gravity. Towards the end of the film Hannibal claims “overkill is underrated” and this sentiment pretty much defines the film’s approach. And in case you aren’t clear about what to expect from The A-Team film it is also worth noting that Hannibal also quotes Gandhi in order to justify the use of violence.
At first this delirious approach to the action works well and the film delivers plenty of inventive and exciting action sequences even though none of them are remotely believable. A sequence when the guys ‘fly’ a plummeting tank by strategically firing its cannon almost deserves a standing ovation for sheer audacity. However, the action does become increasingly laboured and while the technique of intercutting between the characters making the plans and the characters executing the plans is initially fun, it eventually becomes overly repetitive.
The dumb fun on offer in the disposable action of The A-Team does hold the promise of it being an enjoyable boys-own adventure film, but it is badly let down by so many other aspects. There are a number of points where the film attempts sincerity, including a completely misguided romantic subplot, and all those moments are awkward and ill judged. The relentless chauvinism of having almost every female character, including Jessica Biel as Captain Carissa Sosa, referred to as hot is also tedious. The A-Team overstays its welcome and misses the mark on too many occasions for it to fulfil its initial promise of consistent entertainment. Within its bloated running time is probably about one hours worth of great material, which would have worked wonderfully on television.