When I was a kid I would watch the show this movie is based on by the same name. I would watch it in secret; not because my parents thought it was inappropriate for kids, but because they thought it was stupid. They would make fun of the show to the point where I was embarrassed for liking it. I don't know if it's their lasting insults or what, but that shame follows me to my enjoyment of this film too. The movie put together a pretty cool cast that consisted of Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler's List) as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Wedding Crashers) as Face, Sharlto Copely (District 9) as Murdock and UFC fighter "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Good rule of thumb is whenever you see a movie staring an athlete of any kind you should avoid it at all costs and yes that includes movies staring The Rock. In a recent interview, "Rampage" Jackson said that he considers acting to be "gay," which is too bad because he's not bad at it. He steps into the role immortalized by Mr. T. with complete ease. Once I realized that that wouldn't be a worry, I could enjoy the movie. I never had a doubt about the rest of the cast. Bradley Cooper is a pitch-perfect Face. Liam Neeson is the fatherly ass-kicker Hannibal that was needed. But stealing the show was South African actor Sharlto Copley doing a hilarious job as the mentally ill, Murdock. After seeing him dazzle in District 9 and crack-up in The A-Team, it makes me feel like I have stock in the corporation that is Sharlto Copley and hope to see it rise over the next decade. Directing the whole film is Sacramento native, Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces), who has been rather disappointing so far in his career other than putting together impressive mega-casts. However, he gets a good stride going in The A-Team and allows it to move like an Oliver Stone or Guy Richie film with fast edits, cutaway scenes and camera trickery. He also brings the humor the show had to the front of the stage never letting this movie take itself too seriously. If it had done that, it would've been a disaster. But it doesn't lampoon it either, which is just as equally important. Carnahan was also one of the writers on the film and there is an arena he still might need to get his sea legs on. The script is inexplicably complex in the plot. The film that's based on a ridiculous TV show that starred Mr. T. doesn't need to have a storyline that unfolds like a Robert Redford political drama or Grisham thriller. Because of that, it might have some people get caught up in the weeds along the way and not make it to the extra explosive ending. However it's great in the way that just when you think it's about to become absurd in trying to be a military drama involving high ranking cover ups and governmental back-stabbings, it has a scene where The A-Team is driving a tank out of a plane and shooting bad guys down in the sky with it, which couldn't have been more stupid and fun at the same time. The "A" in A-Team stands for "Alpha" but as far as I'm concerned it stands for the letter grade it earned by exceeding my expectations by leaps bigger than the realism that exists in the film.
The A-Team (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-