It’s big, loud, ludicrous and edited into visual incomprehension. But pity the fool who lets that stand in the way of enjoying The A-Team, the super-caffeinated movie version of the series that ran on NBC from 1983 to 1987. Mr. T, who starred on the TV series as B.A. Baracus, reportedly thought the PG-13 movie leaned too hard on the violence and sex. Today’s audience, hard-wired to the bloodlust of video games, would laugh at the TV ballets that managed to kill no one. Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin Aces) doesn’t so much direct as shamelessly show off his skills at blowing shit up. But his affection for the crass material is undeniable. The actors follow suit.
Liam Neeson steps in for the late George Peppard as cigar-chewing Army Ranger John “Hannibal” Smith. Bradley Cooper has the looks and impish humor to overshadow Dirk Benedict as Templeton Peck, the Face Man. South Africa’s Sharlto Copley (so good in District 9) channels Dwight Schultz’s manic energy and then ups the ante as pilot Howling Mad Murdock, and mixed martial arts champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson brings the bling and the bluster as the Bad Attitude Baracus, flashing smiles Mr. T would never have considered.
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All you need to know about the updated plot is that the team members are no longer dishonorably discharged Vietnam vets but good American soldiers in Iraq getting framed for a crime that, of course, they didn’t commit. It’s all an excuse for the stunts — watch for that flying tank! — and the macho banter. Copley and Jackson score best on that front. The Hollywood suits figure you’ll overlook a movie’s faults as long as the action has juice. Isn’t it great when a plan comes together?