Monday, June 14, 2010

Review - The A-Team

“I love it when a plan comes together,” Col. 'Hannibal' Smith gleefully growls through a mouthful of Cuban cigar after successful completion of the ridiculously impossible escape that opens up The A-Team. It's just the first of many implausible escapades upon which the special military task force embark throughout the movie, and while they may be fun to watch individually, the picture as a whole does not come together as fully or effectively as Hannibals' brilliant plans.

Stringing together the action set pieces is an old hat storyline about stolen U.S. money plates being sought by traitorous military men, corrupt CIA agents, and of course, our virtuous A-Team, who must recover the plates not only to foil the bad guys, but also to clear themselves of false charges of murder and conspiracy.

The principle cast features some idiosyncratic choices; Irishman Liam Neeson as all-American master planner Hannibal, The Hangover's Bradley Cooper as the arrogant Lt. 'Faceman' Peck, former WWF star Quinton Jackson as Mr. T's inimitable B.A. Baracus, and Sharlto Copley – a revelation in last year's District 9 – doing his best to disguise his thick South African accent in a Texan drawl as 'Howling Mad' Murdock. Few would have chosen these particular actors to fill the characterizations made so well known by the TV show, but as an interacting ensemble, they click together quite nicely. The rest of the supporting players are really just filling space.

The action is the real star of the picture; overblown, cartoonish, and in-your-face (literally so in one scene that jabs playfully at gimmicky 3D movies). It earns no points for believability, but is at least enjoyable enough. The second half of the movie was perhaps a tad heavier on the CGI than need be, especially with such solid pyrotechnic work established in the first half. Nonetheless, watching the A-team go to work is a delight. It's when focus is shifted to the equally unbelievable plot that the film grinds to a halt. It struggles to find a consistent tone, indulging in needless asides such as the lukewarm romance between Face and good cop Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel), or B.A.'s foolish (or is that “foo'ish”?) vow of nonviolence.

It should go without saying that this flick doesn't hold a candle to the delightfully campy TV series on which it's based, but the film makers compound the problem with too many moments that take themselves seriously, clashing with the absurd fun and mayhem that should dominate.

** out of ****

No comments: