Main cast: Liam Neeson (Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith), Bradley Cooper (First Lieutenant Templeton “Face” Peck), Quinton Jackson (Sergeant First Class Bosco “BA” Baracus), Sharlto Copley (Captain HM “Howling Mad” Murdock), Jessica Biel (Charissa Sosa), Patrick Wilson (Agent Lynch), Brian Bloom (Brock Pike), and Gerald McRaney (General Russell Morrison)
Director: Joe Carnahan
Unlike some of the big screen remakes of old TV shows, The A-Team opts to stick as close to the cheese of the original as possible. While this may be good news for purists, the result is far from greatness. What was perfectly fine in the small screen back in the 1980s, for about forty minutes, becomes unbearably cringy when the whole thing is stretched out to fill up two hours of reel time. Without any effort to make the central cast of characters become anything more than repetitive, one-note shtick, this movie is a pain to watch.
The A-Team is a covert US Army Ranger team comprising four ragtag operatives. The joke is that they are all disasters on paper, but they work great together and their track record is impeccable, even as they just keep being at the wrong side of the law despite trying their best to clear their name. This movie is, in some way, an origin movie as it pinpoints their fall from an “official” (not on the record, of course) covert force to one pursued by the law.
The leader is Hannibal, although unlike the one in the TV series, this one is a bit more hands-on and gung-ho. Someone has this weird idea that Bradley Cooper, who always oozes the sexual magnetism of a turnip, will be the great person to play Face, the charming womanizer who uses his wits and debonair to do things. This Face, on the hand, seems like a creep who oozes smarm rather than charm, and Mr Cooper has zero chemistry with Jessica Biel, who plays the ex-girlfriend that is supposed to have come under his skin. And then, we have Murdock, the eccentric pilot that, in this movie, has his eccentricity hammed up to such a screen-chewing degree that I wonder how anyone allows this guy to leave the loonybin in the first place. And finally, poor Quinton Jackson has to fill the shoes once worn by Mr T in the iconic role of BA Baracus, and let’s just say that he does his best and his enthusiasm should be commended.
The A-Team is at first asked by General Russell Morrison, Hannibal’s mentor, and CIA officer Lynch to help recover some US Treasury plates and over $1 billion in cash from Iraqi terrorists. These plates are also being sought after by Charissa Sosa, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service officer, and for some reason – maybe because she’s an abrasive bitch and Face is a vindictive asshole who wants to pay her back for daring to dump his womanizing ass – she and the A-Team folks start behaving like kids around one another. This cat and mouse game may be amusing if Sosa is given even one pity chance to be in the right even once but no, this whole movie is one defeat or humiliation after another for her, so I don’t know why she is even on the show. It’s not like she and Face are going to have a love subplot here to warrant her inclusion in the movie. She’s not villainous enough for me to take glee in her constant embarrassments, and she’s too stupid to be a worthy adversary and hence her whole thing with the A-team becomes tedious after a while.
The plot is full of tortuous twists and turns, with what seems like betrayals after betrayals flying out of everyone’s rear end every five minutes, but the end result is still a singularly predictable and clichéd tale with a “surprise” villain whose identity that I correctly predicted early in the movie. To waste my time, the movie ramps out the cartoon-like action scenes to such an unbelievable degree that I can’t even be amused anymore. Seriously – there is a tank here, moving and flying in the air. Perhaps in the hands of another director and with another script, this scene may work, but in this movie, it’s just another very, very dumb misfire.
Annoying characters, tedious script, ridiculous action scenes aside, the most serious offense committed by this movie is its mistaking of smugness as an entertaining form of comedy. The main characters, especially Face, are insufferably cocksure, and the movie goes all out to ensure that the villains are of no match to them. Therefore, this is one movie where the “good guys” just steamroller everyone while acting like a cocky party of football jocks. The script should have given these characters more vulnerability or other recognizably human elements to tamper this smug vibe of theirs.
The A-Team is, at the end of the day, an expensively produced movie that has all the preening and vibe of a mediocre B-movie flick.