Neither movie delights to the extent that their genre is capable of- the action in “The Dark Knight” thrills more thoroughly, while the first Sex and the City movie is superior to its sequel- but both films entertain, which is, after all, their purpose.
“The A-Team,” to summarize, tells the story of the origins of the ragtag group of military masterminds and misfits, their fall from grace, and their action-packed mission for redemption.
The first ten minutes of the film are devoted to the mission that brings all four members of the team together. Col. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson) is on a mission to save the charming philanderer Lt. Templton “Faceman” Peck (Bradley Cooper) from a team of unpleasant drug lords and corrupt military men when he meets B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson). The two orchestrate the rescue of Faceman and meet their fourth man, Murdock (Sharlto Copley), at the hospital where they go to recoup post-mission.
This opening is easily the best sequence of the movie. The members of the A-Team have a quirky charm in these early scenes, even if they do lack on-screen chemistry as a team. The stunts and effects of the opening sequence are also some of the best in the film, if only because they are some of the only visible effects in the movie.
The rest of the movie, chronicling the persecution of the team and their plot for revenge, is filled with fantastic stunts that no one can really see.
Here lies film’s biggest failing as an action movie: many of the death-defying stunts, the trademark of the team, go unnoticed because of poor lighting and direction. A stunt involving a motorcycle sliding under a moving truck gets little notice because the audience can barely see it to appreciate it. The hand-to-hand combat portrayed in the film is inventive, but is framed so poorly that the audience doesn’t get the full effect.
An exception to this, however, is a delightful stunt involving a tank, a parachute and some serious CGI. As delightful as this stunt is, however, it is a symptom of another of the movie’s problems.
The movie’s second biggest problem is plot incoherence. While most of the movie deals with the team’s bid at redemption, many of the major plot points go unnoticed. Why, exactly, are the heroes flying a tank using a parachute and firepower? Action plots don’t need to be too complex. Too many villains and location moves can spoil a fun action ride. The three or so “villains” plaguing the A-Team add only confusion, which takes the viewer out of what could otherwise be a carefree cinematic experience.
Between the poor execution of stunts and the lack of a cohesive narrative, the film suffers from an acute case of confusion. But the movie does have its moments. The leads are charming, and their performances are all strong enough to serve the movie. The standout performances of the film come from the least likely sources. Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper, the big names of the film, are outshone by Rampage Jackson and Sharlto Copley.
Jackson delivers an understated performance as the gentle giant of the group, and Copley, coming off of an excellent performance in last year’s District 9, shows his range as the eccentric comic relief.
While these performances can’t entirely redeem the film, the movie is still worth the price of admission. Yes, there are better action movies, but “The A-Team” shines during what has been a dull summer for big blockbusters.
“The A-Team” is rated PG-13 and is currently playing in Calhoun and surrounding areas.