Monday, January 3, 2011

Rewatch: The A-Team

"There's a plan in everything, kid, and I love it when a plan comes together." Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (The A-Team, 2010). 
I saw it in the theaters, and couldn't resist when it finally came out on video.  And as strange as it seems I have to admit I love this movie.

Jessica Biel as Captain Sossa
I love a good heist film: Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job, Mission Impossible, National Treasure, and more recently, The Losers. I really enjoy an action film where people are stealing things, on the run, pulling crazy stunts, and have guys in vans.  Okay, that last part came out wrong--I'm talking about the non-creepy vans, the ones that look like an exterminator truck on the outside but actually are filled with awesome computers and techy stuff.

Why have I begun to sound like a 10 year old boy? 

Bradley Cooper in trouble as "Face."
I think my love for these films is something universally understood.  The witty one-liners and the impossible escapades are great fun to immerse oneself in for a few hours.  And The A-Team is made for that.

The A-Team running from danger.
Based on the popular early 1980s television series, The A-Team is about a reckless elite army force of four soldiers, who, right as they are about to leave Iraq, get framed for a crime they didn't commit, stripped of their rank and imprisoned.  The film starts with the back story of how the team met, before leading into the day they are betrayed.  Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, played by Liam Neeson, is the wise-cracking, cigar-smoking, somewhat fatherly and tactically brilliant leader of the group.  He is intensely loyal, with a strict sense of honor and a deep concern for his team.  Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck, played by Bradley Cooper and Bradley Cooper's fantastic abs, is the smooth-talking player of the group.  He can con anyone into anything, including most women into his bed, although he looks up to Hannibal and does his best to emulate him.  Bosco Albert "B.A" Baracus, played by Quinton Jackson, is the weapons and technical man on the crew.  He can drive anything, intimidate anyone, and is most notable for his Mohawk and "Pity the Fool" tattoos.  He's a softy at heart, however, and for some of the film tries to pursue a non-violent lifestyle.  He has to be frequently drugged whenever they board planes because of his fear of flying.  Which leads to the final member, H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock, played by Sharlto Copley.  He is the clinically insane, unpredictable pilot of the group who always comes in with a "deus-ex-machina" device to save the day.  He's sweet, brilliant, and totally nuts.

Colonel "Hannibal" puts a plan together.
Predictably, within six months they all break out of jail and begin a mission to regain their lives by finding the U.S. Treasury plates they were accused of stealing.  They chase CIA operative Lynch, played by Patrick Wilson, and Black Forest thug Brock Pike, played by Brian Bloom, all the while staying one step ahead of DCIS Captain Charissa Sosa, played by Jessica Biel, who also happens to be Face's former flame.  Hijinks ensue, but the A-Team manages to save the day while still pulling off some ridiculous theatrics.  But in the end they are still placed under arrest, though they have cleared their name, because they illegally broke out of prison.  Before being led into the police car, Captain Sosa kisses Face, secretly transferring the handcuff key to him.  The group breaks out of the car where they go off to, presumably, fight another day.

"Face" and "Hannibal" get ready to fight.
It's so much fun.  The explosions are big, the wise-cracks just goofy, and have I mentioned Bradley Coopers abs?  They bear mentioning.  Abs.  I'm sorry what was I saying?

Bradley Cooper as "Face," tanning.
If all you want to do is turn your brain off, watch things explode, and enjoy a few hours of sillyness, this is your movie.  It is a little campy, with Neelson constantly puffing on a cigar and saying "I love it when a plan comes together,"  or when girls fall all over Cooper (I mean, abs).  But though I haven't seen it, I think this puts the film on the same level of the original show.  The corniness factor just makes it better for me.  You're supposed to want to groan good-naturedly at the film.

Original cast of 1983's The A-Team 
The one weak point for me was former UFC Heavyweight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's performance as "B.A."  Maybe it's because Mr. T was such a presence in the original, but Jackson seems to have graduated from Paul Walker's "bro" school of acting.  He says, "Ohhhh, yeahhh," "I'm gonna kill you, fool!" and then tries for the sensitivity of a teddy bear.  Some of his scenes actually made me wince.

Quinton Jackson as "B.A" Baracus
Surprising highlight?  Sharlton Copley.  He's a South African actor, perhaps best known for having played the character of Wikus van de Merwe in the film District 9.  In this film, he changes accents, terrorizes B.A., has a tender moment with Face, and gets electric shocked in an insane asylum.  When he's on screen, he manages to steal the scene from both established actors Cooper and Neelson every time.  He's the character the audience is cheering for, and he makes this film the fun time it is.

Sharlton Copley as Captain Murdock
In conclusion, buy some beers, make some nachos, and sit down and watch The A-Team.  It's silly and pointless, and you may want to mute Jackson at some point, but it is definitely tons of fun.

PS-If you know any other good heist movies, please post below!
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  1. I really enjoyed A- Team as well, although found the ending a little flat for some reason. Just wasn't as enjoyable as the rest of the movie for some reason