Finally, a not-so mindless summer action flick that’s both respectful of the material that inspired it and rewarding to fans of the same.
With eight years and eighty successful missions together under their belt, the unorthodox “A-Team” is the US Army’s choice for getting things done in the face of incredible odds. Led by Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), his men include ‘Faceman’ Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson), and H.M. Murdock (Sharlto Copley). Tasked with a covert mission, the team ends up being blamed for killing the only person who can verify their secret orders, but Hannibal isn’t about to let his team take the fall for another person’s crime.
Count this among the handful of classic television shows that has made the leap to film without shaming everyone involved with the original production. It is an origin story about how these four individuals got together as well as an account of what their original crime was; all of these were things hinted at in the television series but never explored. Also like the series, the plans are over-thought and outrageous, and watching how they succeed or go awry is all part of the show. Again by respecting the original material, the film honors rather than belittles what has gone before, ensuring there’s no need to pad the running time making up silly sight gags and instead just let the story naturally and entertainingly unfold.
The actors hired to replace their television counterparts each meet their challenge while adding something new to the established characters. Of the quartet, it is Sharlto Copley, formerly of District 9, who steals the show with his Murdock. The inclusion of Jessica Biel as Capt. Charisa Sosa doesn’t feel forced (and may be a nice setup for any potential sequel), while Gerald McRaney’s appearance as General Morrison was a pleasant surprise. For a few additional moments of nostalgia, be sure to stay until the end of the credits.
One thing hurting this film was the hastily made and remarkably similar production of The Losers, a fun but incomplete movie that may undermine or put people off from The A-Team who may confuse the two. It’s sad, too, because this is the very kind of film people claim they want to see in the theater during the summertime, a bigger than life action flick that’s not too brain heavy but doesn’t insult their intelligence while featuring fun characters doing heroic stuff. If word of mouth doesn’t kick start this, it’ll be a shame since it looks better on a bigger screen.
(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)