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2 Aug 2010

Movie Review: The A-Team

Before I begin, I must say, I have never seen an episode of the A-Team. I know, shocking. However, even with this in mind I went into the cinema certain that this film would forever ruin the show's reputation and lose millions of fans.

The plot begins with the usual gang (Hannibal, Murdock, Face and BA, played by Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Bradley Cooper and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson respectively) being hired by Lynch, a CIA agent, to steal back treasury plates used to create counterfeit US bank notes, which is currently in the hands of Iraqi insurgents. This, however, is much to the disguist and anger of Pike, a member of "Black Forest", who previously had the mission. Once the task has been completed (and Hannibal splurts his iconic catchphrase "I love it when a plan comes together"), then things turn upside down. The plates are stolen again and the team are charged with murder. It is then up to them to get out and get the plates back, with the help of Face's ex-lover Captain Sosa, and CIA agent Lynch. This plot is very predictable. You will see one of the twists from about a quarter of a way through. However, one twist you will not see coming. Yet, it still didn't quite provide the shock and awe it should have been. I would go further into detail, but I would be travelling into spoiler territory.

However, ignoring the plotline, this film is amazing. The action scenes are good with plenty of explosions, shouting and gunfire. When the action is at its best, the constant assualt on the senses provides an amazing action experience, although these scenes are few and far between. Notable scenes include Face on the turret of a tank firing down Army drones whilst the tank is in free-fall, and an extravagant heist scene. However, the film has the good sense to abandon the action when it starts to become to much, but rather offering for either a scene of chemistry between Sosa (Jessica Beil) and Face (Bradley Cooper, of "The Hangover" fame) or the comedy stylings of Murdock and BA. And during these scenes, the film shines at its brightest. The chemistry between 'Rampage' Jackson and Copley is genuinely entertaining and provides many a laugh, which i was not expecting.

As for the acting, the standard was mixed. Sharlto Copley was jaw-dropping as the mental Murdock, playing him as a menatlly insane but ever so lovable pilot, who uses anti-freeze as marinade for burgers and dodges missiles by barrel-rolling a helicopter. As for Bradley Cooper, he steals the show as Face, the cocky ladies man. Even though, at first look, his character may be over-confident but he is brough down to earth by Sosa, the girl he can no longer get. For some reason, Cooper is always at his best when he is the cocky character (case in point: The Hangover). As for Jackson, he didn't shine as much. Yeah, he got the fear of flying across, but his character was too far in the backround for who I believe is the most iconic character of the show. I believe that he could have played a larger part, even if his chemistry with Murdock was strong. As for Liam Neeson, this won't go down as his best film since Star Wars. He acted well, yes, but it was the writing that let him down. Constant hard-man stereotypes are flung around at an alarming rate, which included the turn-and-stare and the same one-liners seen in almost every other action film. Yet, one part was unexplainably missing for about 90% of the film. The iconic A-Team van. Even though I havn't seen an episode before, I still would have like to see more of it, purely for how much of a pop-culture icon it has become. It appeared for about 10 minutes, but that was it. I was thoroughly dissappointed.

The cinematography, on the other hand, was constantly varied and entertaining when the action heated up. During the conversations between the characters, the shots were just average, with the exception being the final scene, which uses a rotating camera to great effect. However, when the action heated up, the cinematograpy grew. The camera wobbled behind a running character, making you feel right in the action. During the constant explosions, the camera would pan back to give the best shot available. As for the music, it was nothing special. Yes, it complimented the action, but it didn't provide the impact it could have done, and provided nothing memorable. Yet, instead of adding something to the film, the music seemed to remove something from the experience. Especially in the first half of the film, the music overlapped some of the dialogue, which meant some of the plotlines and plans could not be heard. This was especially frustrating during the original heist scene, which switched between planning and action, most of which was drowned out by pulsing music and the sound of gunfire.

Overall, the A-Team is an above-average action film. However, it is let down by poor acting by half of the main cast and problems with music balancing. Throughout the whole film, these points niggle at you and distract from the whole experience, as well as the stereotypes which stop it from becoming a great film. I went in expecting a film that falls flat on plot and relies on action scenes to wow audiences, and I was correct.

Total Score: 5 out of 10

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