The A-Team was always ripe for a big screen reactivation. It was camp Saturday night entertainment, where no-one got killed, each episode followed an identikit formula and the only plot arc occurred in the opening voice over. However George Peppard’s cigar, Mr T’s jewellery and THAT theme tune remain cool over two decades later.
A group of specialist Army Rangers are framed for a crime they did not commit and then escape from military prison in an attempt to clear their names and find those responsible. It sounds better in serious 80’s voice over mode.
First let’s talk casting. Liam Neeson is an ample replacement for Peppard, a sly grin on his face as he stays three moves ahead of everyone. Bradley Cooper hardly has to extend himself as Face, spending half the movie with his top off and seducing a bevy of beautiful women (including Jessica Biel), but that will certainly prove a turn on to any ladies who may have walked into the wrong film.
Sharlto Copley, making only his second feature film performance, is superb as slightly mad Murdoch. He lights up every scene he’s in, whether it’s psychologically torturing BA or cutting out a helicopter’s engine mid air to avoid heat seeking missiles.
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson performance as BA Baracus is a disappointment. It is difficult to blame the former cage fighter though as he virtually had to learn how to act on the job. Several mumbled line readings disparate any hope emotion seeping through.
The film’s biggest and perhaps fatal flaw for anyone over the age of 13 is its awful sound mix. Explosions and gunfire are all well and good, but is it really necessary to play the entire film at 100 decibels? Much of the dialogue is left incomprehensible, which is a shame as many of Murdoch’s comedic asides get lost in the sonic overload.
It’s not that the film isn’t fun. From the team steering a tank through mid air, capturing a stolen Iraqi printing press or an opening set piece that establishes how the characters meet and why BA comes to be afraid of air transport. There is simply a surfeit of cuts and CGI.
I was expecting at least one cheer at loud moment and an editor who did not suffer from ADHD could have provided it. It was never going to be high art but with the talent in front of and behind the camera it could have been the most entertaining film of the summer. It’s a C- for the A-Team.