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Old 06-13-2010, 05:02 PM
Joe Carnahan's The A-Team

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

The A-Team (2010)

"The A-Team," an adaptation of the famous television show from the '80s, is best compared to another recent film, "The Losers." Both films are silly, over-the-top, and include action sequences that come off as hilarious, and even though the plots may be incomprehensible at times, they still deliver one hell of a ride.

"The A-Team" tells the story of a group of Army Rangers who first met up in Iraq. The team includes Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson), and Murdock (Sharlto Copley). After becoming the go-to guys for dangerous missions, they are told of a set of bars used in printing American money that are now in enemy hands. They are also specifically told not to undertake this mission, but, of course, they do anyway.

After the mission is complete, their commander, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney), is killed in a mysterious explosion. They are then believed to have been aiding the man who took the bars, a Black-Ops agent named Pike (Brian Bloom). The team is sent to four separate maximum security prisons after being dishonorably discharged from the service, but they are not there long before they are assisted in their escape by a CIA agent, Lynch (Patrick Wilson). Now the team must recover the bars and prove themselves innocent in order to clear their names.

There is a lot more plot here than I would have expected from a movie of this type, and that actually turns out to be one of its drawbacks. Because it tries to throw in so much plot, it becomes muddled in the second half when it reveals that certain people are working with other people who are each trying to betray/kill the others. Everyone's got their own agenda, and that's just fine because it really doesn't matter for this film.

The highlight of "The A-Team" is its wildly imaginative, over-the-top action sequences. Like "The Losers," these sequences are incredibly silly and hard to take seriously throughout most of them, but I don't believe you are really meant to. The action of this film plays out more so for the comedic value it has rather than for believability. If you try to take it too seriously, chances are, you are not going to have any fun watching it.

For instance, take one of the action sequences halfway into the film that involves the team trying to escape on an airplane. While in the air, the plane is struck by a missile, blowing it to pieces, but the team is alright....because they're in a tank. That's right, apparently there was a tank on the plane conveniently equipped with parachutes. So now they are slowly drifting towards the ground in a tank with the jets that attacked them still circling.

The jets continue their mission to stop the team, but using some quick thinking, one of the team members pops out of the tank and fires a machine gun, destroying one of the jets, and causing tons of debris to fly right in his face. Miraculously, he is uninjured. It's not over yet though as one of the jets has shot out their parachutes, causing them to begin hurtling toward the ground, but more quick thinking from Smith has them firing the tank's main gun to propel them towards a nearby lake.

Another sequence involves one of our heroes speedily descending a rope that is dangling along the side of a skyscraper while the enemy shoots at him. Amazingly enough, the bad guy is unable to hit the good guy with countless bullets from a machine gun despite the good guy being wide open while propelling down the rope. Nor is the good guy injured when he falls a good part of the way. Can you see where a suspension of disbelief would come in handy for times like these?

"The A-Team" comes from director Joe Carnahan, who previously directed the wild action film "Smokin' Aces" which also had somewhat of a murky plot, but a lot of great action sequences to make up for it. This is not exactly a great film, but it is quite an entertaining one. If you're looking for a fun popcorn flick, then you don't need to look any further. 3/4 stars.
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