Liam Neeson’s Col. Hannibal Smith states halfway through the film that “overkill is underrated”. By then of course, it’s clear that The A-Team flourishes on bringing such excessiveness to the forefront, primarily in the form of action so far over the top you’ll quickly lose any doubt in the abilities of the team to accomplish anything, no matter how far-fetched or seemingly unachievable. This loss of believability isn’t necessarily a bad thing if impossible antics and gravity-defying stunts is your cup of tea, but when the digital effects outweigh the practical feats, the sense of awe-inspiring grandeur drastically fades. When we do get to witness close quarter combat with fists instead of CG, the camerawork is often so frenetic it’s hard to focus on what’s happening. At least nothing is taken too seriously as the delirious characters, action, and humor provides the essentials for a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster. Not that we could take it seriously even if we wanted to.
Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) leads the “A-Team”, a highly-skilled military squad that excels in the insane and consists of smooth-talking ladies’ man “Face” Peck (Bradley Cooper), driver and mechanic B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), and maniacal pilot H.M. Murdock (Sharlto Copley). When the group is framed for a crime they didn’t commit, they must break out of prison and hunt down those who betrayed them while staying several steps ahead of both their enemies and Peck’s former flame Captain Sosa (Jessica Biel), the determined Army officer in charge of bringing them in.
There isn’t a single scene in The A-Team that doesn’t deserve a good eye-rolling. It does relish in its excesses, brandishing the utterly ridiculous, completely unbelievable aspects with an acknowledging pride. The A-Team gladly makes fun of itself with hilariously stupid stunts, moronic characters, cheesy one-liners, comic-relief villains and plenty of preposterousness all around. On the plus side, the good guys can take a lot of abuse and never really get hurt. The audience can relax when the going gets tough because not only does the team avoid injury or death, they always succeed and they always outsmart the crooks, no matter how random or contrived a situation may seem. This is also one of the problems – there’s no real tension with invincible characters and every predicament is overcome by some unexplainable, perfectly timed but never completely pre-planned collaboration of allies, luck and gumption. It also helps that the laws of physics, gravity and other pesky realities are conveniently misplaced so as not to interfere with adventures such as safely landing a freefalling tank from an airplane into a lake, all while dodging missiles and gunfire and discharging heavy weaponry in return. And of course the tank must be fully operational, even after a crash-landing and full submersion in water. Everything looks so easy for the A-Team.
The action is nonsensical at best and never tries to be anything else. Sadly, the editing of hand-to-hand combat scenes and several shootouts are so quick and choppy that it’s hard to focus. With all of the CG involvement, it seems unnecessary to hide or cheat the validity of basic fights. Further nuisances can be found in the flashbacks, used for clarification when plans must remain unpredictable (or for the forgetful), and in a love story with Jessica Biel unnecessarily thrown in for good measure. The disregard for reality is like cartoon characters running amok in a video game, playing without rules and without boundaries. At least it’s good to see Sharlto Copley, the star of District 9, continue to get work.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)