Critically, TV-to-Film usually doesn’t come out all that well. I remember watching the VHS of the Rocky and Bullwinkle film over and over and over just b/c I loved that movie so much, irreverent gags and all. I also remember watching the Brendan Frasier/Alfred Molina take on Dudley Do-Right hundreds of times thanks to that film’s batch of incredibly moronic humor. Much in that same vein of those movies, I have a feeling my 10 year old self would have had a blast seeing Joe Carnahan’s take on The A-Team, much like my 18 year old self now. The film of course follows the journey of 4 men (Murdock, Face, Hannibal, and B.A.), framed for roles in a government conspiracy who must clear their names and bring those responsible to justice in the coolest, most unorthodox way possible. 2 hours of explosions, tank parachuting, window-shattering, and fool-pitying later, we have a film that reminds us all why the Summer movie season is so great. One of the most important parts of a film like this that can really make or break the movie is it’s cast. One of my favorite films from this year was the Chris Evans stylistic action film “The Losers”, and director Sylvan White did an incredible job of giving each and every one of those 6 members their own personality, their own moment, and making each one distinct. Carnahan greatly succeeds in doing the same thing by not making the mistake of casting safe and bland action heroes into his lead roles, but casting actors that had charisma. Quentin Rampage Jackson, stepping into the film’s biggest shoes (literally) of Mr. T, floored our audience with his comedic timing and great physical presence playing B.A. Baracus. Bradley Cooper who got a lot of recognition for last year’s huge hit “The Hangover” as the straight man oozes charm just as he should as the all-around suave ladies man team member, Face. Liam Neeson knocks it out of the park as Hannibal, having just enough gruff in his voice to be the leader and at the same time give chills down your neck in the few scenes of his true awesomeness. Finally, one of my favorite actors after his amazing role in District 9, Sharlto Copley, puts in something extra special in this movie as the often hysterical Murdock. This film proves this guy has versatility and talent, and hopefully this can finally be this guy’s launchpad. Jessica Biel plays the sexual eye candy and does it fairly well (although her character isn’t really necessary), and Patrick Wilson (Night Owl from Watchmen) thankfully did his homework with old 80s films as he fills the shoes of the cheesy, grease-ball bad guy to our team. The cast doesn’t have you asking for much more. The A-Team itself is thankfully diverse and astoundingly well-built/well-written in all of their action scenes and banter between each other, but I for one sort of had this feeling as I was leaving the theater that there could have been more done to solidify that these guys were brothers, that they really loved each other (this coming from a guy that’s a huge fan of that sort of dynamic) and weren’t simply four guys that happened to work with one another. Watching the trailer for this one, I got an immediate sense of what sort of action and stunts we were going to get: flipping insane. Possibly my favorite part of this film is just how well-paced, well-built, and well-executed some of the action set pieces are built for this movie. The one that catches a lot of folks’ attention is of course the tank drop in the film, and rest assured it’s just as amazing as you believed it would be, yells of “Get Some!” and “That All You GOT!!!” and all. The final climax of the film is also really just breathtakingly amazing for what Carnahan accomplishes without having to use CGI (even those parts are still amazing), but my favorite piece of the entire film is the chase that ensues after the parachute-helicopter-pickup-grenade-window-blowing-out-by-BA-scene. There’s just so much going on in the scene, so much going on that they’re doing for real, so much that transitions in the scene (how we go from a window washing platform to a parking garage), that it’s standing as one of my favorite action scenes of the year. That’s the thing, you can’t describe any of his action scenes without describing the whole thing or just remembering how cool they were to begin with. However, all is not well in this action department. Carnahan has some serious trouble positioning the camera during the film, some shots and camera movements become so blurry you can’t tell what’s going on, and sometimes (all this excluding the bigger set pieces) all you would really want is a steady shot of the action, one camera in one position to get all the action into one frame. The end result of some “on-foot” battles is dizzying and leaves you not knowing where certain characters/enemies are in the midst of all the chaos. As I begin to wrap this all up, you can wrap The A-Team up in two words-completely satisfying. Noone’s going into this film expecting worthwhile drama or intrigue plot, they just want to see stuff blow up, and The A-Team does all of that, but doesn’t just settle for it. They still take the time to make the character relationships more than they could have been, the action scenes far grander, far more exciting, and more impressive than they could have been, and the plot, although a little too-self-indulgent at times, more developed and constructed than it could have been. There’s this added layer of cheese that the film has, but as an audience you totally embrace it. You know the film’s stupid, they know the film’s stupid, but there’s just that macho-ness toughness that after seeing a guy shoot down a plane from a tank in mid-air while yelling “Get Some!”, seeing a car drive through a mental institution home, and seeing a grown black man dress in African garb in a “serious” airport scene, somewhere along the way, you just give in and say “Okay, you win! I love you as a film!” Hopefully that doesn’t take too long in the film for you to get, for me, it was the opening credits. They go the extra mile. The jokes in this film had our theater constantly amused, the banter and relationships are all done excellently. I could go on and on about what all this movie does really well, and only spend a small amount of time nitpicking about what it doesn’t do great. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of this film. If you’re in danger, you need help, and you can find it, the A-Team is a perfect example of what a great Summer film can be.
4 1/2 out of 5