Verdict: You've got to love it when a plan comes together - this is a lot of fun.
On paper, The A-Team movie reads like an over the top, ridiculous and inane blockbuster. One which would seem to support the argument that Hollywood is incapable of any original ideas.
There might be something in that but, thanks to spot-on casting, a tongue-in-cheek approach and plenty of humorous action, it's also a pretty enjoyable piece of entertaining escapism.
If you've never seen, or just can't remember, The A-Team telly show which ran for five seasons in the mid 80s, it doesn't matter. Director and co-writer Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces) begins by explaining how these four military operatives, Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson) and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) meet and end up working together. It's all very contrived, an early warning of how much The A-Team tests the limits of reality, both with the storyline and its improbable stunts.
The basic set-up is the same in this modernised update, but instead of being Vietnam veterans the boys are Iraq War vets, and just like in the original they are framed for a crime they didn't commit and sent to jail by a military court. Once they've escaped, they begin a mission to clear their names and restore their legendary reputation.
All four of the main team are perfectly cast, with Neeson adding some gravitas as the team's leader Hannibal. Cooper (The Hangover) makes ladies-man Face easily likeable and charming and Copley (who has gone from District 9 to Hollywood big time almost overnight) nails the genius lunatic Murdock. Jackson has the hardest job as "Bad Attitude" Baracus, as he's the most iconic of all the characters, and he does okay, although he's not as nasty or memorable as Mr T was in the telly role.
Filled with stunts and special effects, the aim with the action seems to have been to make it as preposterous as possible. Skydiving in a tank, the prison escapes and flying upside down in a helicopter are scenarios which are just as comical as they are impressive. Along with witty throw-away lines and the easy, teasing camaraderie between the characters, there's no risk of taking this film seriously, or remembering it.
The A-Team does suffer from being a set-up film and having to establish the characters, their quirks, and how they came together, but now that the introduction is over you get the feeling that if these guys do a sequel they will really let rip. Never thought I'd say it, but I hope they do.
Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley
Director: Joe Carnahan
Running time: 120 mins