out of Five
Running time: 117
The performances are mostly fine and The A-Team doesn't skimp on the action and explosions but it's let down by a disappointing script, dodgy dialogue, poor CGI effects, panicky editing and a subplot that's both morally reprehensible and entirely out of place.
What's it all about?
Directed by Joe Carnahan, The A-Team is based on the popular 1980s TV show and begins with plan enthusiast John 'Hannibal' Smith (Liam Neeson) rescuing handsome charm-peddler and fellow US Ranger Templeton 'Face' Peck (Bradley Cooper) from an evil Mexican. Along the way he enlists the help of hard-driving tough guy B. A. Baracus (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) and bonkers chopper pilot H. M. 'Howling Mad' Murdock (District 9's Sharlto Copley).
Eight years later, the four men are an elite military team with 80 successful missions to their credit, but when a double-cross lands them in jail for a crime they didn't commit, they break out and attempt to prove their innocence by retrieving some stolen US Mint plates. At the same time, they have to stay one step ahead of both shady CIA operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson) and military officer Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel), who just happens to be Face's ex-girlfriend.
Neeson is clearly enjoying himself as the cigar-chomping Smith, while Cooper's perfectly cast as Face and Copley is good as Murdock, even if he doesn't seem all that insane in this crowd. There's also strong support from Wilson (who pretty much steals the show) and Biel, though martial arts-fighter-turned-actor Jackson is all kinds of wrong for B. A. and his high, squeaky voice is very off-putting.
To be fair, the film does deliver some decent set-pieces, most notably a physics-defying escapade in a tank that's plummeting to the ground. However, the dodgy CGI and the choppy, panicky editing frequently undermine the action, particularly during the effects-heavy finale.
The dialogue, when you can hear it, is atrocious, but the film's biggest problem is a morally reprehensible sub-plot in which B. A. learns to kill again (with the help of Gandhi quotes no less), which is completely out of place, particularly for a film based on a show that famously never killed anyone. Speaking of which, die-hard fans might want to stay for a cameo-heavy post-credits sting, though you'll probably wish you hadn't.
Despite some decent performances and the occasional set-piece, The A-Team is a noisy, charmless mess that, ironically, never quite comes together.
The A-Team London Premiere