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Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Writers: Joe Carnahan/Brian Bloom/Skip Woods
Director: Joe Carnahan
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

TV adaptations are a mixed bag, and whenever one comes out, I get a little nervous. While The Brady Bunch Movie was great (mainly for how they approached the material), there have also been some pretty embarrassing ones (The Honeymooners, I'm looking at you). I have never seen a single episode of The A-Team, so I cannot say whether it does the show justice or not; as a movie fan though, I feel confident enough to say that The A-Team is an excellent action flick and the first really fun summer movie I have seen. It doesn't concern itself with being serious or paying attention to the laws of gravity, The A-Team only concerns itself with being entertaining, and it does this to great success.

The A-Team is made up of four guys; the ringleader and mastermind Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), the cocky Face (Bradley Cooper), the muscle/attitude B.A. Baracus (MMA fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson), and the completely insane helicopter pilot Murdock (Sharlto Copley). After a mission goes awry, they are framed and sentenced to ten years in military prison. You can't keep a good team down though, and six months after they are sentenced, they break out of prison with the help of seedy CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson). Although technically free, they still have names to clear and they go after mercenary Pike (Brian Bloom), the person who set them up (or is it?). Standing in their way, however, is Lt. Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel), who has a romantic past with Face and is hellbent on finding Pike herself and The A-Team while she is at it.

The A-Team is absolutely insane, and for that reason I love it. You have to accept the world the movie takes place in, or you'll just spend your time picking it apart. Physics do not apply (in one scene, Hannibal kicks a guy so hard he flies into a window fifty feet away) and in this world, the most convoluted plans come off without a hitch. Also, when you're crashing towards the earth in a tank, all you have to do is repeatedly shoot at different angles to propel yourself and avoid death. The A-Team manages to at least pay homage to its 80's roots, and the feats they pull off here would fit in with the 80's action movies of old.

Joe Carnahan and company have managed to gather an excellent cast for The A-Team and because of their abilities, the movie manages to survive some negatives that would severely hurt lesser films. The A-Team itself has great chemistry, and each member owns their role; Liam Neeson is great as the ringleader Hannibal and Bradley Cooper (in his first action role I believe) pulls off both the seductive wit of Face and his more ass-kicking side. Sharlto Copley, in his first role since he hit the scene with District 9, is my personal favorite of the bunch. Murdock is insane, and not just in a "wow that guy is crazy" kind of way; the man has literally been institutionalized. However, his insanity is a positive because it allows him to think outside the box. He is also the main comic relief of the film, and Copley (with an almost dead on Southern accent) delivers on most of the jokes. Anyone who was wondering if he had any range, definitely see this; Copley is someone to be reckoned with in Hollywood.

Even the side characters are excellent. Patrick Wilson does a great job as Lynch, playing the kind of "villain with a sense of humor" that I have a soft spot for (see Michael C. Hall in Gamer). Wilson has some great one-liners here and while he is slimy, he is awkwardly likeable, at least to me. The other villain, Pike, is the antithesis of Lynch; he is a true mercenary who is out to kill and get the mission done, not joke around like Lynch does. Brian Bloom, who also co-wrote the movie, does some good work here too. Jessica Biel...well she's there, but she doesn't stink up the screen. In the whole cast, she is the weakest link, but she still holds her own.

Then there's Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who inherited the role of B.A. Baracus from Mr. T. For A-Team fanboys, at least the one I know, this was the biggest hurdle to overcome. I mean, even if you don't really know the old show, you know Mr. T and the way he acts is pretty much B.A. Baracus (so I'm told). Well, rest easy; although no one can replace Mr. T in anything, Jackson brings his own spin to the role, adding some more vulnerability and diversity rather than just straight ass kicking and multiple uses of the word "fool". Although an MMA fighter by trade, Jackson does a serviceable job here and I was definitely impressed. Again, he is no Mr. T replacement, but he manages to take a role that is defined by one person and make it his own.

The A-Team is a great fluffy shoot em up that is fun to watch and worth your money. It's everything you expect to be; light on plot, heavy on the action and humor, and relentless. While it could have been another failed TV adaptation, the excellent work by the cast and the complete insanity of the A-Team universe excel over a somewhat weak script, a couple of failed jokes, and some really fake looking CGI. I fear that I will not be as purely entertained for the rest of the summer (or maybe even the rest of the year) as I was with The A-Team. If you love shoot em up action flicks, this is definitely worth the watch. If you swear up and down by the old show...catch a cheap showing of it and stay for the end of the credits.


Final Verdict:
A-




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