Big, dumb and loud: The ‘A-Team’ has arrived

By Christopher Smith,
Posted June 17, 2010, at 6:13 p.m.

In theaters

THE A-TEAM, directed by Joe Carnahan, written by Carnahan, Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, 117 minutes, rated PG-13.

The new remake of the 1980s television show “The A-Team” really should have been titled “The C-Team.” Joe Carnahan directs from a script he co-wrote with Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, and what they’ve created is your less-than-successful summer Hollywood action blockbuster — big, dumb, loud, ridiculous, over-long, over-stuffed, over-wrought and without the sense that evolution has occurred.

At least among some of the suits in Hollywood.

The movie came in second at the box office, having lost the top spot to another ’80s throwback — “The Karate Kid” — which widely was considered to take the lower tier. It didn’t, and for good reason.

In “Kid,” the plot is laced with cliches, sure, but the actors are connected to their characters, something human and real is at stake within its underdog plot, and the fact that it was shot on location in China adds a dimension to the film that the original movie lacked. Visually, this “Karate Kid” is something to behold.

In “The A-Team,” the explosions are what’s here to behold — and how often have we seen their many variations? True, the film’s last big set piece is fun to watch since the film’s CGI team obviously smoked a little something before going berserk behind their computers, but what comes before it is trite and unbelievable. Thirty minutes could have been shaved off this movie and nobody would have noticed. But in this culture of bigger must be better, we get all of that padding along with the weak quips and the stale laughs.

The fact that the movie is a middling piece of mediocrity isn’t without surprise, even if Carnahan is responsible for directing such classics as “Smokin’ Aces,” a movie that left some of us blowing smoke rings into our seats.

Here, he has assembled a solid team of actors, four of whom play Iraq veterans and are members of the A-Team, an elite fighting force of misfits.

There’s Bradley Cooper as Templeton “Face” Peck (he’s all smiles and suntans), Liam Neeson as the cigar-chomping Hannibal Smith (he’s all frowns and furrows), Sharlto Copley as “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock (he’s just annoying) and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. Baracus (he’s … a softy?).

Also onboard, apparently to provide a shot of sex appeal, is Jessica Biel, who struts through the movie like a diva on a catwalk. She’s Face’s ex-girlfriend. Bad blood boils between them. Naturally, since she also is a government agent, the uniform she favors most is an impossibly tight leather outfit that must have left the poor thing fainting from hunger throughout the shoot.

The A-Team Movie Preview from Christopher Smith on Vimeo.

The plot goes like this: The members of the A-Team are framed for counterfeiting. Prison calls, but so does the need to clear their names and reveal the truth. And so they bust out of those prisons and re-connect in an effort to do justice proud. But trouble looms. And daring escapes prevail. Things explode — and then they explode again. Patrick Wilson shows up to be a two-timing nemesis. Arabs of ill intent linger along the periphery because that’s what Arabs do in mainstream Hollywood movies. Gandhi is quoted — with levity.

And the world weeps.

Some will question whether the plot has been covered here. It has. We could explore the fact that not a lick of it adds up and that the characters are dishrags up on the screen, but why bother? “The A-Team” is a boring romp that tries to capture the fun of the television series, but which mostly misses its mark. It feels as if Carnahan made the movie while walking in his sleep.

Perhaps somebody should shake him so he can read the reviews.

Grade: C-

WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and archive of movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.

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New on DVD
Renting a DVD? BDN film critic Christopher Smith can help. Below are his grades of recent releases. Those in bold print are new to stores this week.

Alice in Wonderland — C-
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel — C
Avatar — A-
The Blind Side — B+
Body of Lies — C
The Book of Eli — C-
The Box — B-
Broken Embraces — B+
Couple’s Retreat — D+
Crazy Heart — B+
Daybreakers — B-
Dear John — D
Did You Hear About the Morgans? — D
Edge of Darkness — C
An Education — B
Elegy — A-
Everybody’s Fine — D+
Extract — C+
Fantastic Mr. Fox — A-
The Fourth Kind — D
Funny People — C+
I Love You, Man — B+
Inglourious Basterds — A-
It’s Complicated — B
Invictus — B+
Julie & Julia — B+
The Last Station — C+
Law Abiding Citizen — D+
The Lovely Bones — B
Michael Jackson’s This is It — A
Old Dogs — F
Precious — A-
The Proposal — C+
Role Models — B+
A Serious Man — B+
Sherlock Holmes — B+
She’s Out of My League — C
Shutter Island — B
Surrogates — B-
Tooth Fairy — C-
Up — B+
Up in the Air — A
Valentine’s Day — C-
When in Rome — D
Where the Wild Things Are — B+
The Wolfman — D+
Youth in Revolt — B

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/06/17/living/big-dumb-and-loud-the-lsquoateamrsquo-has-arrived/ printed on September 16, 2014