Lighten up, America! The very definition of Big Dumb Summer Fun was delivered to you on a silver platter — make that a tank on a parachute — and you reject it? Here’s your second chance: “The A-Team” is now on home video, and it’s a solid B.
Based on NBC’s 1980s hit television series, the actioner chronicles the adventures of a ragtag quartet of Special Forces soldiers: smooth-talking Face (Bradley Cooper of “The Hangover“), mentally insane Murdock (Sharlto Copley of “District 9“) and Mohawked muscle B.A. Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), all under the tutelage of their fearless, cigar-chomping leader, Hannibal (Liam Neeson, still in “Clash of the Titans” cash-grab mode).
When they’re recruited by one Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson, “Watchmen“) to retrieve some Iraqi counterfeit plates from the Saddam regime, they succeed (“I love it when a plan comes together,” Hannibal is fond of saying), but also fail, because they were set up to take the fall for what looks like a crime. Stripped of their ranks, they are sent to prison. The rest of the film finds them plotting revenge in their typically showy, weapons-happy fashion.
As he did with the underrated “Smokin’ Aces,” Joe Carnahan directs with Jolt Cola restraint, throwing everything in the mix as if he’ll never have another opportunity. The balls-to-the-wall approach can’t help but feel like a party, albeit one where everyone shouts over each other incessantly and must have access to better liquor than you. To those who decry the big set pieces as unrealistic and verging on cartoonish, well, yeah — have you ever seen the show?
Among the ensemble, Cooper appears to be having a blast (confirmed by the disc’s amusing, seven-minute gag reel), but it’s Copley who has the real comic chops. Too bad he’s also the least utilized. As Face’s love interest and an Army captain, Jessica Biel is miscast. Besides, what’s a woman doing in such a manly movie?
Be sure to stick it out to the post-credit end to absorb all the surprise cameos. Even if “The A-Team”‘s C-level box office keeps the film from making good on its final-scene promise for a sequel, at least Carnahan and company gave it their best shot. Or several thousand. With so much firepower, who can keep track? —Rod Lott