The A-Team might not have hit all the notes the filmmakers’ were aiming for, but it’s still one hell of a ride. The casting was well done even if it’s a bit odd to see Liam Neeson with silver hair like he does; Bradley Cooper does his successful comedic schtick that suits his character so well; and Rampage Jackson, while not great, was a good enough casting choice in such an iconic role.
Genre(s): Action, Comedy
Fox | PG13/UR – 134 min. – $39.99 | December 14, 2010
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Writer(s): Frank Lupo & Stephen J. Cannell (created by); Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods (screenplay)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson
Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 2010
Features: Picture-in-Picture/Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you hire: THE A-TEAM.
TV to film adaptations don’t usually work out too well but as Hollywood continues to look for new ways to fill out their summer tent-pole schedule, they tend to look at some of the more iconic series, and well, even the not so iconic ones as well. And often enough they don’t usually work out: The Dukes of Hazard, The Mod Squad, The Saint, The Avengers, etc and the number of adaptations that do work are too few and far between (The Fugitive is, IMO, the best). The A-Team might not hit a home run but it’s still an enjoyable yet mindless blockbuster.
The movie opens in Mexico where the first mission is already in play. Hannibal Smith (LIAM NEESON) is tracking down a corrupt Mexican general who has comrade Peck aka ‘Face’ (BRADLEY COOPER) captured for sleeping with his wife. In the middle of the desert, Hannibal has a chance (or fate) meeting with one B.A. Baracus (QUINTON ‘RAMPAGE’ JACKSON), a fellow Ranger and together they rescue Face. But the mission, and subsequently team, is not finished. The three make their way to a local hospital where they enlist pilot H.M. Murdock (SHARLTO COPLEY) to escape and give chase from the general in a pursuing helicopter.
Now the team, “The A-Team”, is together and we fast forward years – and many missions – later we find them in Iraq and they have one more mission: a covert job to hijack a cargo of stolen U.S. currency and while they think they complete it with relative ease, they are double crossed by a black ops unit led by a man named Pike (BRIAN BLOOM). Because they were warned not to take the mission by Charissa Sosa (JESSICA BIEL) who heads the military’s version of the FBI, and believing they are responsible for the death of a general who had approved the mission (thus the only man who could verify it all), they are stripped of their brass, dishonorable discharged and sent to prison.
Being a man with a plan, Hannibal wants to clear their names and thus a great prison escape is put into motion where upon the A-Team gets back together the clues to find Pike and uncover the truth to why they were set-up. Working together they form more elaborate plans into motion that would get them re-instated.
With The A-Team, so much could have gone wrong and quite frankly, there was no good reason I should’ve liked it. The action is way over-the-top and the phrase “suspension of disbelief” seemed to have been coined for just a movie like this. Take for instance – and this is maybe 15-minutes in – when while performing invasive maneuvers from a chasing helicopter, Murdock stalls the engine to avoid heat-sinking missiles and in mid-air is able to ratchet it up and start the propellers again. The other big sequences comes around act two in which the team escape from an exploding plane via a tank going out the back and uses the blasts from its cannon to direct it in air and slow down momentum and crash in a lake. Yes, it’s a big time action sequence and probably employed plenty of people at the visual effects company, but you really have to hope you’re fully engaged with the story and characters in order to continue forward.
Casting wise, they didn’t do too bad of a job. Admittedly, I am a big Liam Neeson fan so of the five big roles his might’ve been a little jarring if only to see him with the white/grey hair yet he is such a great actor and natural leader that he makes the role work so damn well. Brad Cooper isn’t such a stretch playing Face, playing up a character who is smart but whose smartass attitude takes center stage, so basically if you’ve seen Cooper in his other comedies (The Hangover mainly) then you get more of the same. The one part that probably gets the most attention, and subsequently criticism, is UFC fighter ‘Rampage’ Jackson in the most iconic role played in the series by Mr. T, B.A.
The film was directed (and co-written with Bloom who plays Pike) by Joe Carnahan, a man with many faces in terms of genre. Given Carnahan also directed another over-the-top action flick in Smokin Aces, what we see in The A-Team, albeit with a larger budget, isn’t out of the question but for whatever reason, and where so many lesser directors fail, he makes it work.
Although it’s hardly a complete success, I still found The A-Team to be an enjoyable and mindless action romp that everyone needs every once in a while. It is a shame that it didn’t perform well at the box office as these group of actors looked like they truly were having a good time together but a theatrical sequel is highly unlikely (I wouldn’t put it past Fox to release a direct-to-video sequel with lesser — cheaper — actors, however).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2/5
BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES – 3.25/5
The Devil’s in the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan – This opens with an introduction (1:14) by Carnahan explaining how this feature works. On top are mini-windows where, during certain parts of the film, you can select it and find more info on a particular gun or machine. On the bottom is a countdown for each plan in the movie. So you won’t get bored, this also serves as an audio commentary by Carnahan and every once in a while Carnahan, like in Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode, will pop-up to break down a scene. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted Scenes (9:05; HD) – There are six scenes that were removed, though some were already incorporated into the extended cut. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Gag Reel (7:19; HD) are a selection of typical flubbed lines and cases of the giggles. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
A-Team Theme Mash-Up Montage (1:36; HD) – Here we get the “The A-Team” theme set against scenes from the movie. Really don’t see the point in this, but OK.
The A-Team: Plan of Attack (28:39; HD) is a loose featurette on the direction and story for show-to-movie adaptation and includes behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with members of the cast and crew. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Character Chronicles (23:11; HD) is comprised of featurettes on each of the actors and the characters they play. You can watch them as one longer featurette or individually. These include: “Liam Neeson: When a Plan Comes Together”, “Bradley Cooper: Fully Automatic”, “On Set with Rampage Jackson”, “On Set with Sharlto Copley” and “The B-Team”. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Visual Effects Before and After (6:11; HD) is an interesting feature where you get to see how they composite the on-set footage with visual effects. This comes with commentary by the visual effects supervisor. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Theatrical Trailer (2:25; HD) – I always like it when they include the original trailer as they are often left off.
Under the Live Extras submenu, you can watch the movie with Live Lookup™ which taps into IMDb to get info on actors plus a featurette called Dressing Down (3:11; HD) available via BD-Live. ** Blu-Ray Exclusives **
There’s also the digital copy you can use on your computer and is compatible with iTunes. ** Blu-Ray Exclusives **
VIDEO – 4.25/5
The A-Team comes to Blu-ray in its original 2.35 aspect ratio (MPEG-4 AVC codec) and 1080p high-definition. The picture is fairly crisp and clean from beginning to end and has just a touch of film grain and/or noise that gives it a more natural film quality when compared to other Blu-rays where the studio would scrub them clean believing viewers would be dissatisfied with any particles on the video. Detail levels throughout are also quite good being able to see each spec on a character’s face or even objects in the background. I can’t say it’s an amazing video but I can’t imagine it isn’t on par with what was seen in theaters.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is highly effective from beginning to end. Of course, this is the film that most lends itself to be seen and heard on Blu-ray. I’ll stop short in saying its reference material but it still sounds incredible during the numerous insane (or inane depending on your viewpoint) action sequences yet still has the subtlety to provide clear dialogue as well.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The A-Team might not have hit all the notes the filmmakers’ were aiming for, but it’s still one hell of a ride. The casting was well done even if it’s a bit odd to see Liam Neeson with silver hair like he does; Bradley Cooper does his successful comedic schtick that suits his character so well; and Rampage Jackson, while not great, was a good enough casting choice in such an iconic role. As for the Blu-ray, both the video and audio are good if not great and the features, albeit full of fluff, is decent enough.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman