Film Review: The A-Team

The A-Team is an action blockbuster that entertains, for the most part. If you are expecting a movie that engages your brain, or one that will rival your fond memories of the television show, disappointment will surely ensue.

An elite army team are accused of a crime they did not commit. In order to clear their names, the four men must find the real perpetrators of the crime, whilst evading the unit sent to bring them back to jail…

Based on the popular television show of the 1980s, the film provides the well-known characters with an origin story of how the team first came together. It is updated to the modern day, with the Iraq conflict as a backdrop to unfolding events. The story is unapologetic in its straight-forwardness – do not expect character development or any attempt at emotion to get in the way of the big action set-pieces.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of The A-Team is the decision to include a love interest for the character Face. Charissa, played by Jessica Biel, is in charge of the unit sent to recapture the A-Team. She is also a former girlfriend of Face, played by Bradley Cooper. Given the testosterone-fueled nature of the film and the television show, her inclusion rings hollow. In an attempt, it seems, to attract a female audience, the filmmakers try to generate interest in this angle of the narrative. There is, however, a lack of authenticity to this love story; the film would have benefited to omit this element.

Performances are adequate in The A-Team. Cooper is charming, and Sharlto Copley does well as Murdock. Whilst the four display a sense of camaraderie, this does not match excitement generated by the original A-Team. This is particularly pertinent when both Liam Neeson (Hannibal) and Quinton Jackson (B.A. Baracus) voice the famous catchphrases. In this way, the film screams ‘inferior imitation’ rather than ‘loving homage’.

The action sequences are frequent, outlandish and entertaining. So much so that director Joe Carnahan should have dispensed with the half-baked attempts to add depth (the identity crisis of B.A., for example), and aimed squarely at those who like their plots simple and their explosions big. On the upside, children of the 1980s will want to revisit the series to be reminded of how it should be done.