To start off with I have to say I was completely surprised by this movie. I’m not sure what I went into the theater expecting, but the film was scores better than I imagined it would be. I have to confess I’ve never seen the TV series, and I don’t really think it is my type, but the characters are not old tributes to the originals (from what I can tell, I’ve been asking my parents a lot about the series) but are fresh and strong.
The plot is not original, especially in this year’s mega-lineup of war-themed movies. It seems like every studio has their own version of this story, and I’m having trouble keeping track of which ones I’ve seen. “A-Team” uses the phenomenon of the 80s TV Show to stand apart from the pack, but content wise it really is a tired story.
The movie begins with a job in Mexico in which Hannibal (not the horror guy, that is Liam Neeson’s character’s nickname) and “Faceman” are attempting to bring down a corrupt General. Faceman evidently slept with the General’s wife and is going to be burned alive. On his way to rescue him, Hannibal meets up with “B.A.”, a man expelled from the military (I think, they weren’t very clear on that one). B.A. has been working to get his prize SUV fixed up, and is finally taking it home. Hannibal shoots B.A. in the arm to convince him to allow him to commandeer his van. B.A., however, is really only mad about a gun being fired at his car.
Anyways, B.A. and Hannibal go after Facepalm. They then proceed to a military hospital where they breakout mental patient/soldier Murdock, the best pilot in the Army Rangers (which each of them is a part of, even B.A.). They trick the General into following them with bombers into US airspace and the General is taken down.
Now that you know how everyone came together, the story skips 8 years during which I’m guessing the series took place. The main plot of this movie, however, begins in Iraq. Hannibal, Faceman, B.A., and Murdock are an elite team under general Morrison. They go on missions no one else is supposed to know about, very off-the-record. Many years before money printing plates were given to the Iraqi government. They are about to be shipped and are in the prime position to be taken back. A CIA spook “Lynch” visits Hannibal and asks him to recover the plates. At the same time an Army captain “Sosa” with ties to Faceman visits him.
They pull off the perfect operation and get the truck carrying the plates, but a bomb goes off, killing General Morrison, and a team of guns-for-hire in the Army camp steal the plates and vanish. The group is charged for attacking the Iraqi group (there are no official records of the operation and the General is not alive to confirm or deny assigning the mission to them, so technically they were acting on their own) and they are sentenced to prison terms in separate maximum-security areas.
6 months pass and Hannibal is again visited by the CIA Spook Lynch, who says if Hannibal helps him to recover the plates he will make sure his name is cleared. Hannibal has been using outside contacts and knows more than the CIA about where the plates were taken. He breaks out of prison and also helps Facepalm, B.A., and Murdock (who is in another mental facility) escape, all the while pursued by Sosa who needs to capture them but faces the dilemma that if they recover the plates she will be returned to her previous status (She was demoted 2 ranks after the plates were stolen).
The movie follows them as they try to get the plates back, and come to realize that Lynch may be part of the overall problem, not the help they sought.
I gave the plot a low rating, but that doesn’t mean the movie is bad, just unoriginal. I think they actually pulled it off extremely well. The story may be easily confused with other movies like this (which were all filmed around the same time), but it is funny and to the point without being obnoxious. I didn’t pay attention to what the box office for this movie was, but I personally think it should have done pretty well.
One whole point went to Patrick Wilson, who played Lynch. Now, that was the point I took off, but he gets one all to himself. Patrick Wilson is one of those actors who makes a great background character or extra, but is not up to lead-actor status. In A-Team he had a role that was too large for him to fill, just like in “Phantom of the Opera” (he played Christine’s fiancee Raoul, for those of you who recognized him but couldn’t place him). I think he was a mistake to cast, his performance wasn’t memorable, but it didn’t completely suck. I just think the movie would have been better with a stronger actor in this part.
A majority of the positive points go to one particular actor. Not Liam Neeson, who is a genius, but to Quinton Jackson who played B.A. He is a relatively new actor, having begun in 2005 with some minor roles (he was a wrestler), and I think this is his first major performance. He played Mr-T’s character. This is one character I was expecting to hate. I figured the performance would be very “I pity the fool~” and would just be a younger version of his senior’s character. But actually I don’t think he ever uttered the famous line (though “pity” and “fool” were tattooed across his knuckles). I was incredibly surprised that his performance wasn’t tough-guy, but was I think the softest character and certainly one of the funniest (the other being Murdock, who was hilarious!!!). I hope to see him in more movies like this in the future.
Overall I would recommend checking it out, if it is out of theaters then definitely when it is released on DVD. It was really good! Like I said, it doesn’t really stand out plot-wise, but there are great jokes in it and I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel on the books (the movie practically promises one). From where it ends it looks like they will be re-doing the series in movie form, and I think that would be great.
This is the first movie Liam Neeson has filmed since the sudden death of his wife Natasha Richardson. In interviews he has said the film helped him to deal with his own fears and pain after her death, especially the action sequences. Liam Neeson is a brilliant actor and it is great to see him return so strongly after that tragedy.