The A-Team: The Looks, The Brains, The Muscle and The Wild Card… oh, and lots of explosions
As we learned from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, every great gang is comprised of The Brains, The Looks, The Muscle, The Wild Card and The Useless Chick. The A-Team follows this formula to a tee, and not Mr. T.
Based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, The A-Team is about a group of renegade soldiers of fortune trying to clear their names after being framed for counterfeiting when printing plates from a U.S. mint go missing.
The team’s leader Hannibal (The Brains), played by Liam Neeson, is always formulating intricate plans that seem like the board game Mousetrap, only packed with explosions. Bradley Cooper, playing Face—very clearly The Looks—is not only able to participate in complicated action sequences, but has a charm that makes him utterly irresistible to the ladies. His primary romantic interest, The Useless Chick, is tough-but-sexy Capt. Charisa Sosa, played by Jessica Biel. What ragtag group of renegades would be complete without The Muscle, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and The Wild Card, Sharlto Copley in a vastly different role from his fantastic Wikus Van De Merwe in Disctrict 9?
The TV series was like Mission Impossible meets Scooby Doo, so it’s no surprise that the film version features gigantic explosions, people cleverly escaping certain death, and even Cooper navigating a flying tank. Like Transformers and Iron Man, this film takes place in a world where anything, no matter how flammable, could—and will—explode at any moment.
Normally, I hate when people use the phrase “it is what it is”, but what you see in the trailer for The A-Team is exactly what you get. There are a bunch of perfectly timed action sequences and a cavalier attitude towards major property damage. One scene where a cargo ship is blown to bits while its container cars rain down on the dock elicited giggles from the audience at my screening. Even Roger Ebert chastised the extensive property destruction in his review. But this isn’t The Bourne Identity; this is a big summer explosion movie.
While the explosions are the true star of the film, it’s interesting to see “real” actors like Neeson playing such over-the-top characters. For the first few minutes that Copley was on screen, I was transfixed and wondering how he managed to successfully drop his thick South African accent. Equally, when Jackson was first introduced, I was more interested in how he would step into Mr. T’s iconic shoes. With his good looks and charisma, Cooper was a perfect choice to play a professional panty-dropper who can get any girl to do anything at any time under any circumstances. Despite his heroic turn in Watchmen, Patrick Wilson has always been better suited to play a villain, so he easily pulls off the role as double-crossing Agent Lynch.
While this film is in no way “high art”, The A-Team accomplishes what it set out to do. It’s got big explosions, high-speed chases, Biel looking pretty, and, of course, The Brains, The Looks, The Useless Chick, The Muscle and The Wild Card. That formula usually makes for a successful summer popcorn movie.