Artificial Continuum

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer is a time for fun films. Although there are the occasional serious blockbusters such as District 9 or The Dark Knight, the summer movie season is dominated by movies where people can escape the heat and enjoy themselves. When it comes to pure, and sometimes, brainless escapism there are few films as successful as The A-Team. Although far from a perfect film, The A-Team has succeeded to a greater degree then any other film this year in delivering what it promises.

The A-Team follows the crack military team of Lt. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), Lt Templeton 'Faceman' Peck (Bradly Cooper), B.A. Baracas (Quinton Jackson), and Captain Murdock (Sharlto Copley) as they struggle to clear their name of a crime they did not commit. As the team of misfit and ingenious rebels battles its way across the globe they must deal with government turncoats, an elaborate theft, and Peck's ex-girlfriend and high ranking military official Charisa Sossa (Jessica Biel).

The ensemble cast goes a long way to providing for the level of fun that The A-Team accomplishes. While actors such as Jessica Biel and Brian Bloom as the CIA agent Pike are competent, the real focus is on the team through which the movie gets its title. Liam Neeson, admittedly the most serious of the crew, has undeniable chemistry with the entire cast. His leadership feels genuine and ,like the brilliant action set pieces, he is fun to watch. Bradly Cooper is also a standout as the egotistical Peck. However, the real the star in this film is the horribly underused Sharlto Copley. Copley is brilliant and hysterical as the insane Murdock. Copley is a scene stealer and you only wish they had spent more time on him. The only performance that feels disappointing is Quinton Jackson as B.A. Although Jackson does have some fun scenes, he just feels the least interesting out of the entire crew. This is a stark contrast to the original A-Team where B.A., played by Mr. T., was the true scene stealer of the series.

The script is a soup of clever pacing, fun set pieces, and moments of sheer stupidity. Surprisingly, it all works. Director Joe Carnahan manages to pull the scripts weaker segments and create them into moments of enjoyment. Scenes that would seem ridiculous in any other hands are played for laughs. Like the television series it is based off, The A-Team thrives off being over the top. The characters, humor, and most importantly the action are all injected with so much energy and lack of realism that it becomes a literal cartoon on screen. Unfortunately, some of the character stories, especially a rather corny segment following B.A.'s struggles with morality, feel tacked on and unnatural. Certain jokes, including an annoying reference to the Call of Duty franchise, are also annoying and fall flat.

Outside of the actors, the real star of The A-Team are the ridiculous and clever action scenes. From the very beginning of the film, bodies are flying and explosions are bursting. However, it never becomes tiresome. Whether its an airborne duel between helicopters, a chase through the high rises of Germany, or a midair battle between a predator drone and a tank, The A-Team's action is not only exciting, but a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to popcorn movies, you are likely to find few better this summer then The A-Team. Despite its flaws, it is certainly the most fun you will have at a theater this year.

Score: B+


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