A-Team, The (Blu-ray Review)10 Dec, 2010 By: John Latchem
Box Office $77.2 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.
Stars Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Gerald McRaney.
Those who deplore The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan’s adaptation of the classic 1980s TV show, will hate it for the same reasons that fans of the film enjoy it. It’s a loud spectacle of a movie where the plot takes a backseat to ever-increasing heaps of ridiculous action sequences.
I’m in the camp that wants to sign up for more. Carnahan perhaps best sums up the criticism of the film in his commentary with a snarky reply to the notion that the film is unrealistic: “Did you ever see the TV show?”
Thanks to the engaging chemistry of its lead actors, the film does well by the spirit of the show, which told the tale of a fugitive commando unit that took on jobs helping the helpless while staying one step ahead of the Army trying to arrest them. Carnahan’s version tells the team’s origin story recounted in the show’s iconic opening narrative sequence, updating the timeline for the 21st century. Sent to military prison for a crime they didn’t commit, they escape with intent to clear their names.
The team consists of the cocksure commander, Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson); pretty boy Lt. Peck (Bradley Cooper), known as Faceman for his infiltration skills; heavy hitter B.A. Baracus (MMA star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson); and insane pilot H.M. Murdock (Sharlto Copley). Standing in their way is a DOD investigator on their tail played by Jessica Biel, and the CIA operative who may have set them up, played with panache by Patrick Wilson.
Amid the gunfire and explosions, the movie never loses its sense of fun. Its signature scene involves a tank that falls from an exploding airplane and proceeds to attack two unmanned drones in a dogfight, one of the more inventive action sequences to come along in a while, but also one that illustrates how key it is when watching the film to stay in the moment and not overanalyze the mechanics of it all.
For example, the scene is preceded by an escape that involves a movie projected against a wall, with a truck driving toward the audience (this scene also contains what may be the most obscure “Star Trek” reference ever). When the truck reaches the appropriate point, a real truck drives through the wall, the escapee jumps on board, and the truck drives away. Its a well-conceived gag, so long as you don’t think to hard about a) how those planning the escape knew where the movie would be projected and b) how they knew the precise moment they needed to burst through the wall; did the DVD send them a signal? Ah, who cares?
The home video version gives viewers a chance to watch an extended cut of the film, which clocks in at 15 minutes longer and reintegrates the two cameos from original series cast members, which are presented as post-credit cookies in the theatrical version. Some of the scenes are welcome additions but reintegrating them does create a few pacing issues. There’s a reason they were cut in the first place.