‘I love it when a plan comes together’ opines cigar-chewing black-ops manager Col John ‘Hannibal’ Smith (Liam Neeson) several times in Joe Smokin’ Aces Carnahan’s revamp of the 1980’s action series. Unfortunately Carnahan’s plan, which involves replacing the TV show’s stunt-work with flashy CGI, and peppering the dialogue with endless shout-outs, call-backs and smug referencing of the TV show, never quite comes together like the plans Hannibal loves.
Updated from the Vietnam war to Iraq, The A-Team has Smith and his business partner Faceman (The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper) join forces with air-travel-averse toughie BA Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson) and madcap pilot Murdock (District 9’s Sharlto Copley) to retrieve stolen printing plates used for counterfeiting US dollars. When they’re double-crossed and framed by another black-ops team, Smith sets about busting his men out of jail, and going after the real culprits in explosive style, with federal agent Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel) in hot pursuit.
From its extended, twenty-minute opening credits scene onwards, The A-Team, like the original TV show, aims to be excessive, exuberant fun, with flying tanks, macho badinage and an ingenious climax involving hundreds of multi-coloured packing containers on the waterfront of the Port of Los Angeles. But with the stars looking uncomfortable with such deliberately lightweight material, The A-Team plays like any other pumped-up B movie; there’s plenty of bang for your buck, but the film tries so hard to pander to its audience’s silliest desires that it ends up feeling calculated, shallow and empty.
General release from Wed 28 Jul.