Summary: A ridiculously fun, masculine ’80s style action movie that suffers and benefits from 21st century filmmaking.
Review: ‘The A-Team’ is an update of the mid-1980s TV show of the same name. The original ‘A-Team’ was basically a live-action cartoon for burgeoning young men and men still young enough at heart to appreciate that sort of thing. The movie is, surprisingly, completely faithful to this premise. The show and the movie focus on four guys with huge, fun personalities that defy corrupt authorities and serve the common good by blowing stuff up with pizazz. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem to be very popular anymore, by virtue of its enthusiastic masculinity and unapologetic lack of political sensitivity. It’s a celebration of the concept of brotherhood on a completely ridiculous scale. It’s wish fulfillment for any red-blooded American male with a soul.
The film is far from perfect. Unlike the show, it has a tendency to obfuscate the action with questionable cinematography and editing, but when it’s clear, it’s clear that there’s quite a lot of awesome going on. This is the ’80s back from the dead, but 21st technology has given us access to the sorts of adventures we could only dream of watching ‘The A-Team’ embark upon back in the day. Basically I’m saying that the team gets to fly a tank. Don’t ask me how they end up performing this task, or how well it all goes, because that would ruin the fun.
Most importantly, the cast is perfect. And I love it when a cast comes together. Liam Neeson is more serious than George Peppard as Hannibal Smith, but there’s a few sparkling moments where he channels his TV counterpart, and it gives me chills. Bradley Cooper’s Faceman is more of his own monster, since Dirk Benedict was playing himself back in the day, but there’s still a familiar twang, even if Cooper’s rendition is something of a fool. Out to pity fools in the tradition of Mr. T is Quinten Jackson as B.A., and he’s a lot of better than you’ve probably heard. He really hits the nail on the head, and somehow tricked me into thinking that Mr. T actually created a character. Maybe he did. Rounding out the team is Howling Mad Murdock, my personal favorite of the show (where he was played by Dwight Shultz), and definitely the biggest scene stealer in the movie, this time portrayed by newcomer Sharlto Copely. He’s hilarious and is possibly having the most fun out of everybody. The bad guys and supporting cast all do a pretty good job, but special mention goes to Brian Bloom as Pike, a rather menacing mercenary who gets a lot of great lines.
What the ‘The A-Team’ represents to me is a reminder of brotherhoods gone by, of good deeds done and villains vanquished, and of future A-Teams to be gathered in the future. It’s kind of a wistful, idealistic mode of thought, but if ‘The A-Team’ is anything, it’s hyperreal.