Movie Reviews

Film Review: “The A-Team”

(20th Century Fox. 1 hour, 57 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language, and smoking. Directed by Joe Carnahan.) Liam Neeson (Col. John "Hannibal" Smith), Bradley Cooper (Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck), Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (B.A. Baracus), Sharlto Copley ("Howling Mad" Murdoch), Jessica Biel (Capt. Charisa Sosa), Patrick Wilson (Lynch). Music by Alan Silvestri.

Popcorn remake of a popcorn TV show is surprisingly tasty. If you’re not familiar with the original, it’s from the Stephen J. Cannell ’80s TV factory about four Vietnam vets (plus that black van) who used their varying skills to help others. Now the action is set in the final days of troop withdrawal from Iraq. The underdeveloped screenplay has something to do with a wayward plan for the four to recover stolen currency plates. But you won’t care about that. What’s important are the central four characters.

Neeson’s cigar-chomping Hannibal is OK but George Peppard seemed to have more fun. No one can take the place of the multi-chain-wearing Mr. T, but “Rampage” Jackson (you won’t know him unless you watch UFC) is pretty good. Bradley Cooper is fine as “Face,” plus I can tell the ladies he takes his shirt off early and often. I was really impressed by Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) who surpasses Dwight Schultz as Murdoch; he pulls off some genuinely funny, wacko bits. (Schultz, plus original “Face” Dirk Benedict have cameos.) I haven’t seen any previous movies by Carnahan (Narc, Smokin’ Aces) but his action setpieces here mostly deliver the goods. Cinematography by Mauro Fiore, who just won the Oscar for his work on Avatar. Executive producers include Cannell, plus Tony and Ridley Scott. Verdict: less camp than the TV show, plus bigger action budget, and appealing stars, equals pretty good entertainment.