Action. Loud noises as things blow up. Director Joe Carnahan puts the “bio” of the A-Team front and center as the film opens, and for those not familiar with the TV show that ran in the mid 1980s, the character development will be tough to follow at the onset. There’s no “Mr T” larger-than-life figure, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson playing the role of Bosco Albert B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus (Jackson of some UFC and WWF fame), Liam Neeson as Hannibal, a cool choice for new audiences (George Pappard would be 79 this year, having passed on at 65 in 1994)…Battlestar Galactica’s Dirk Benedict IS 65 this year and his Lieutenant Templeton “Faceman” Peck is played by the 35 year old Bradley Cooper, who was probably eight years old when the show originally aired on television.
Cooper, from He’s Just Not That Into You and Nip/Tuck, does throughout this movie what Alan Rickman accused Tim Allen of in 1999’s Galaxy Quest: “You’ve managed to get your shirt off.” Cooper’s shirt is off more than it is on in this movie, clearly a ploy to get the guys to bring their dates to this rock ’em sock ’em movie…women actually a big part of the original A-Team television audience. But this film so so hell bent on the explosive nature of big budget summer films (a nice follow-up to the noise that Iron Man brought to the theaters…and box office cash registers) that it will be a guy thing despite the forced Jessica Biel/Bradley Cooper pseudo romance that gets in the way of things.
Patrick Wilson as the CIA’s Lynch is the wild card here and his macho arrogance, along with Brian Bloom’s presence (he was in the Terminator TV series), makes for a compelling bit of intrigue… Wikipedia notes that NBC President Brandon Tartikoff pitched the TV series to producer Stephen J. Cannell as a combo of many previous television shows including Mission Impossible…but what this new A-Team is, with no apologies, is something very much along the lines of the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies, and easily better than MI 2 and MI 3.
The poor character development aside – the introduction of H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley) is so in-your-face that it takes away from the fine cast and the film itself.
But once it gets rolling and into high gear the intrigue saves the day and the very believable plot of counterfeit U.S. currency engraving plates makes this a great addition to the Mission Impossible series…even if it is titled The A-Team. Good summer fun – truly television crafted for the big screen. Viewed in that light, The A-Team succeeds.