The basic premise for The A-Team seems to be putting a colorful group of characters together, adding them into seemingly threatening situations (but not really), and seeing how they’ll deal with them. They also have to be chased at all times by government agents, because we need a real threat — someone who could actually have the possibility of putting the kibosh to their fun.
The leader of this team is named Hannibal (Liam Neeson). He’s significantly older than the rest of the group, and always has a cigar in his mouth. Despite this, he’s just as athletic and doesn’t have any problem keeping up with them. This is the character elderly men look to for inspiration. Next, we have “Face” (Bradley Cooper), the man younger men identify with. He’s the charming womanizer, the “ideal” man, I guess. Then there’s Bosco (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), because the film would be racist if it had a cast of all-white males. Finally, we have Murdock (Sharlto Copley), who insane people can idolize, and sane people can laugh at.
Has everyone been covered? No, we need a female. She comes in the form of one of the agents who either chases or is chased by the group. Her name is Charissa (Jessica Biel), and we first meet her in Baghdad, having a conversation with her former lover, Face. She, being a high-ranking member of some organization, decides to veto any plans that the team might have in order to retrieve some stolen money printing plates. Patrick Wilson shows up and tells them that they should go ahead with it anyway, and so they do. The mission is a success, and it seems like, despite disobeying orders, they’re going to be celebrated as heroes.
But, a movie about celebrating a job well done doesn’t have much tension, so soon enough, their General has been blown up, the team is put in jail, and the plates have once again been stolen. Eventually, they all break out of jail (not at the same time), and they are once again on a quest to find these plates. And also clear their name. And avoid getting captured/killed by the people who chase after them for the entire film. And have fun. You see, my friends, fun must be had at all times. Otherwise, the characters would get bored.
To accomplish the goal of “having fun,” these people get involved in some of the most insane action scenes you will see. Let’s be perfectly clear here: Very few, if any, of these segments could happen in real life. But in this universe, the laws of physics don’t mean all that much. Neither does logic, but since that is superseded by “having fun,” it doesn’t really matter. Essentially, the characters in the movie get to enjoy themselves while they’re engaging in these set-pieces, and the hope is that the audience will as well, either because we’ll relate with the characters and they’re enjoyment, or because the action scenes themselves will be impressive enough to make our heart pound.
It ends up being a combination of these two things that eventually made me warm to this film. It wasn’t just the characters not taking it too seriously, or the fact that the action scenes themselves were just so good. Instead, it was because the action was entertaining, and watching the characters was also this way. Neither one particularly stood out, but together, both elements make the film more watchable than it really has to the right to be. And if that doesn’t make it worthwhile, hearing Jessica Biel blurt out with the utmost sincerity “They’re flying a tank!” definitely does.
Where The A-Team doesn’t quite work is in the plot department. This is actually a very long movie as far as these things go (just about two hours), and there are a few points that seemed like they would be proper endings. But then the movie just keeps going and going and you start to wonder just how long it’ll be before you’ll get to see the credits roll. It’s like sitting in the car with a child who continually asks “Are we there yet?” Except you’re the child, and the driver is driving around in circles at the Dairy Queen parking lot.
If that didn’t make sense, don’t worry; it’s not like you’re actually going to need to do a lot of thinking while you’re watching The A-Team. In fact, you could think about what I just said for the entirety of the film and not miss a single thing. You’re here for the stunts and action scenes, the characters are there for the same reason, and anything intellectually challenging is pushed aside for the FBI Agents (or wherever they’re from) to instantly figure out for you. That’s fine, and it works well enough here, but don’t be expecting a difficult film.
I liked the actors in this film, especially the main cast. While it might have been nice to have this movie done twenty years earlier with the original cast of the television series, the new cast members equate themselves nicely (even Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, somewhat surprisingly). Copley is probably the highlight, donning more accents in one role than I can remember anyone else having to do, and playing his role crazy enough to understand that he’s not all there, but sane enough to not become a nuisance.
Look, this is a movie that’s there for the sole purpose of allowing you to watch crazy action scenes being played out. Yes, it’s fun, and it’s also enjoyable to watch the main characters also have fun. That’s as deep as it gets, and if you want a film that will challenge you intellectually — or make sense in terms of physics and time — then you’ll want to look elsewhere. It’s dumb, fun action movie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.