Unsolicited A-Team Review

Not a still from the movie; Brad Cooper and Liam Neeson are actually huge gun nuts.

The A-Team
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley
Directed by Joe Carnahan

You know, it really hurts that they took an iconic 1980s TV property like “The A-Team” and just handed it over to the guy who directed Smokin’ Aces, like that Jeremy Piven-infested nightmare was some kinda Coppola. No surprise Joe Carnahan’s A-Team is a bit of a mess and—if you can believe it—slightly dumber than the original show. I knew this flick would never get the Criterion treatment when it began repeatedly flashing back to earlier events, as if to suggest we the audience lacked the mental capacities to remember things we saw fifteen to thirty minutes prior. Oh, Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel almost kissed? How could anyone forget that? She’s the only woman in the fucking movie!

That said, The A-Team squeaks by as a fun, funny action romp thanks to some great set pieces and the likability of the characters. The plot focuses on that famed crime our favorite covert military specialists didn’t commit (something involving currency printing plates) and what they must do to clear their names. Following the A-Team’s every move once they go underground are the aforementioned Jessica Biel as the humorless (and stupidly-named) DoD cop Charisa Sosa and the delightful Patrick Wilson as a CIA spook named Lynch. Also in the mix is the guy from “Major Dad,” Gerald McRaney, as an army general. Good to see him working again.

So what of the four main players? How doth the 21st Century A-Team stand up against the classic configuration? Eh, they do alright. Liam Neeson plays Col. Hannibal Smith with a steely determination that will probably keep the ghost of George Peppard at bay. Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock is nowhere near as masterfully mad as what Dwight Schultz once gave us, but he’s still a charmingly wacky helicopter pilot who lives to aggravate his fellow soldiers of fortune. Bradley Cooper’s Face is acceptable, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson does what he can in the sizable wake of Mr. T. Is there anyone on the planet who could have pulled off a post-T B.A. Baracus? They should have gone purposely terrible and hired Chevy Chase.

Nitpicks: Quinton Jackson has “PITY” and “FOOL” tattooed on his knuckles—doesn’t everyone know by now that Mr. T first said “I pity the fool!” in Rocky III and not “The A-Team?”; they really half-ass the orchestral version of the TV show’s stirring theme song; they use the rerecorded Guitar Hero version of “Anarchy in the U.K.” for one scene (did the album version cost too much?); there are absolutely no references to Murdock’s invisible dog, B.A. Baracus’s secret Boy George fandom, or Robert Vaughn; the John Hamm cameo took me out of the movie faster than you could say Don Draper.

Naturally, the end of The A-Team leaves things open for a sequel, which I’m sure if it is made will go straight to DVD and feature a different actor playing Hannibal. The only way that’ll work is if The A-Team 2 is a cross over with “Knight Rider” or “Air Wolf.” Hell, throw all three of ’em in one movie. If we’re gonna pilfer ’80s television for ideas, let’s go all out. I’m sure Todd Bridges would happily cameo as Willis Drummond so an ailing Jan Michael Vincent can finally utter the white hot catchphrase we’ve always wanted to hear him say (“Whatchutalkin’bout, Private First Class Drummond?”).

FINAL SCORE: 2.5 split second Dirk Benedict cameos (outta 4).

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