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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There Is No Plan B for 'The A-Team'

The A-Team = 4 out of 5
Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith: I love it when a plan comes together.
This is a summer movie. It's big and loud, silly, full of action, explosions, humor, and it's all a helluva lot of fun. Exactly what a summer film should be. Satisfying in every way a film like this should.

This may sound familiar: A crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

That's where this film leads to, but the majority of it leads up to how these men would become the legendary team for hire. As the film starts, we are introduced to each member, as they first join forces. Hannibal, played by Liam Neeson, is the team leader who always has a plan. Bradley Cooper is Face, the point man and lady killer. Sharlto Copley is Howlin' Mad Murdoch, a pilot who may or may not be insane, but is still damn good at getting the boys out of sticky situations. Then you have Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Barracus, the driver and muscle of the group. Basically, when these guys are around, there is no plan B.

The film kicks into high gear after the boys are setup for going on a supposedly unauthorized mission, resulting in the death of their commander and the loss of a lot of counterfeit plates used to make funny money. The team is imprisoned, but escape after being assisted by a sketchy CIA agent, played by Patrick Wilson, who wants to get the plates back, and is willing to do so by helping the A-Team, who hope to prove their innocence. Jessica Biel also stars as an agent trying to capture the team, alive, and is, of course, also a former flame of Face's. Ridiculous action escapades ensue.

Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck: What the Hell was that?
Capt. 'Howling Mad' Murdock: If you look out the right hand side of the aircraft you will notice that the right wing is on fire.
The film was directed by Joe Carnahan, who has previously made the great film Narc and the insane hitman comedy Smokin' Aces, which I kinda love. Here, working with his largest budget yet, Carnahan has brought his sense of kinetic/gritty action into the big budget blockbuster world, and has successfully made a film that accomplishes what it needs to. The action is way over the top and the CG is bad in a kinda awesome sort of way. The plotting is ludicrous and the characters all sort of seem to understand the silliness of there situations. All of this helps, because the film is also a comedy, and as a comedy, it is quite funny.



What certainly makes this film succeed is the chemistry between The A-Team cast, which is damn solid. I enjoyed the way all the characters presented themselves, with Murdoch and probably Face being the standouts. It was quite nice to see Wilson let loose a little and have fun in his role. And Biel does a good job at being hot with authority.

Capt. Charisa Sosa: They are the best and they specialize in the ridiculous!
It's hard to provide much more insight into a film like this. It's a film that is designed to be pure and simple fun. The pacing is solid, the action is fun (if a bit to tightly edited at times), and humor runs throughout. While the plotting all leads up to a final action sequence flooded with a mess of CG, there is so much joy to be seen on screen, that it would be a shame to be too uptight for the film adaptation of The A-Team.

A healthy dose of summer fun.
Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith: Give me a minute, I'm good. Give my team an hour, we're unbeatable.

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