Three Stars – Entertaining
For those of us who enjoyed the television version of “The A-Team,” Joe Carnahan’s film is both a joy and a disappointment. The joy comes from having the opportunity to reconnect with the 1983-1986 series, while the disappointment comes from the ineptitude with which the new actors fill the familiar roles. That’s not to say that the new team is not believable, we just lack the relationship we had with Peppard, Mr. T and the others.
Written and directed by Carnahan, he was assisted by Brian Bloom and Skip Woods with the script. Created as an introduction to the team, the film begins with the first meeting of the four Rangers. The leader is cigar-smoking Col. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson) who is able to create the intricate plans to carry off their missions. The ladies’ man is Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Bradley Cooper) who is predictably irresistible. The muscle of the team is Sgt. Bosco Alber B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus (Quinton Jackson), who arguably has the most difficult role to recreate in being the new Baracus. The final member is Capt. H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharito Copley), who is a very believable insane genius.
Following the original theme of a group of mercenaries who always fight on the side of good, the team had completed eighty missions when they are set up and incarcerated only to become fugitives of the law. This allows us to identify with the team because they are working on the side of good, but who operate outside the law to beat the bad guys.
The villains of the film are a soul-less mercenary named Pike, played by screenwriter Bloom, and the ambitious and greedy CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson), who has the appropriate arrogance of a person who cannot be held accountable.
The love interest for Faceman is Capt. Charisa (Jessica Biel). This relationship has some unexpected complexity that adds texture to the film and makes Faceman a more nuanced character. This is also true of Murdock and Baracus who have personal issues of mental illness and experience paranoid reactions.
With twists and turns in the film’s plot, “The A-Team” is an enjoyable journey setting the stage for sequels that will undoubtedly come.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. When the team is betrayed and incarcerated, the obvious message is even stated at the end of the film that “you cannot trust the system.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
2. The unexpected twist that it was not Faceman who left Charisa adds interest in their relationship. Do you think she will be recast in the sequels? Why or why not?
3. The integrity with which the team does their work makes them an admirable group of people. Where do you think this integrity is based? Why do you answer as you do?