Movie Review – The A-Team

The A-Team (2010)
Written by Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, and Skip Woods
Directed by Joe Carnahan

Some of my earliest memories of watching television are of The A-Team. This might be seen as troubling to some because this action series was criticized at the time for delivering a way too sanitized version of violence. This was because no one ever died in The A-Team. No matter what happened to them. They could be bound & gagged inside a vehicle filled with C-4 and blown up. There would be a take after the explosion that showed the person scrambling out of the inferno to safety. In that way, the show was seen as possibly encouraging the youth to do violent things to each other. I have never found any stories of a direct connection between the violence of the A-Team and any act performed in real life. The same cannot be said for the likes of Tucker Carlson and his ilk.

We open on the formation of the quartet that will become known as The A-Team. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) is working with Templeton “Face’ Peck (Bradley Cooper) to stop a corrupt Mexican general. This has led to both of them being in perilous situations miles apart. Hannibal manages to escape before he’s mauled by wild dogs and just happens to cross paths with B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson) who has gotten his modified GMC van back from some shady mechanics. These three men then stop by a V.A. hospital on the border in need of a pilot as the general is pursuing them. Hannibal finds “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copely), a talented but profoundly volatile Army pilot. The group takes out the general and becomes the best of friends. Then the actual plot of the movie starts.

The men are now in the middle of the Iraq War where Hannibal is contacted by CIA Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) about a black op to recover US Treasury plates and counterfeit money in the possession of Saddam loyalists. The merchandise is going to be a convoy to move it out of Iraq and Lynch believes Hannibal’s team can stop that. Meanwhile, CIS Capt. Charissa Sona (Jessica Biel) has shown up to warn Hannibal to stay away as she believes US Army intervention would only create a larger problem. Hannibal ignores her but everything goes wrong and the guys end up framed for a murder. It will take all their wits and ingenuity to gather the evidence needed to prove their innocence and bring down the bad guys.

I don’t think this is a complete piece of garbage. It definitely has its moments as Joe Carnahan is the kind of director that was popular with dudes in the late 2000s, if that contextualizes him a bit better. His most successful pictures were films like Narc, Smokin’ Aces, and The Grey, all ones I just did not enjoy that much. Because my bar was set so low I think I enjoyed The A-Team more than I expected. There were still plenty of moments where I physically cringed about how hard the movie was trying to impress dudes in Ed Hardy shirts that were in the theater. I think the film is more laughable than ever offensive, it does objectify every female character that crosses the camera lens. 

What will likely happen as you watch this bloated, over long movie is you will become bored as hell. Some actors here are charismatic enough to perk up your attention like Neeson and Cooper. Even Patrick Wilson has his moments as Lynch. Like the armored tank the team rides down from an exploded cargo plane, the movie lands with a thud. You can see the writers shaping the possibility of a sequel while clearly seeing there is no way this ever gets a follow-up. I guess that means another reboot any day now to give the IP a second round. It’s a concept that would definitely work as a movie. I just don’t think you can ever produce a substantive movie out of it. The A-Team is only capable of being the most dudebro fluff which is what the show always was anyway.

The most egregious thing Carnahan and company do here is recast Mr. T. Yes, B.A. Baracus is a character but the iconic Mr. T was doing very little acting when he played the role. Baracus and Mr. T are the same person. The rest of the characters are certainly parts for an actor to play but Baracus is a real person. That’s why Quinton Jackson just doesn’t ever come close to capturing that absurd levels of charisma the real T exuded in the role. Jackson is also a poor actor to boot so his line deliveries are constantly very stilted and awkward. He looks as close to the part as you could probably get; he’s just lacking the heart. There’s also a really unsettling subplot where Hannibal is trying to convince the now pacifist Baracus that killing can be a good thing if it’s a bad guy. I could feel the strong pushback against the television series’ no deaths policy and it comes across as very nasty. It was honestly the one thing that had me on Baracus’ side in the movie and made me think less of Hannibal. 

If you really  want to see this movie then I expect you know what you are in for. I would also wonder why in 12 years you haven’t. I don’t think there could be a better film adaptation of The A-Team and that says more about the original premise than this particular movie. 


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