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Pity the '80s Fools

MOVIE REVIEW
The A-Team (2010)

The-a-team-bradley-cooper-sharlto-copley-liam-neeson-quinton-rampage-jackson
Doug Curran/20th Century Fox

Bolts of testosterone surge through “The A-Team” with blinding force. The mystifying remake of the '80s TV show is so supercharged with machismo, you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for the weight room at your local gym.

Buildings, cars and other vehicles explode; bursts of machine-gun fire pepper nearly every scene; and the screaming, manic protagonists are always up for a good old-fashioned beating. At one point, Bradley Cooper sticks his head out of a flying tank to gleefully fire his automatic weapon at nearby planes.

There’s so much manliness on display that director Joe Carnahan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, forgets to add a plot. So we’re left with some nonsense about counterfeiting, Central Intelligence Agency corruption and hero soldiers Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Mr. Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) being wrongfully accused of murder.

The characters’ motivations and the narrative as a whole are about as comprehensible as one of the movie’s frenzied, jumbled action scenes, so there’s no point wasting time dissecting them. The intense storytelling economy of Mr. Carnahan’s impressive “Narc” has now — after this picture and the disastrous “Smokin’ Aces” — fallen to the wayside.

As for the acting, give credit where it’s due: Ultimate Fighting Championship star Mr. Jackson reads his lines in such a thick mumble that they’re no more discernible than anything else. Mr. Cooper plays his standard sleazy ladies’ man while Mr. Neeson appears visibly uneasy with Hannibal’s iconic “I love it when a plan comes together” refrain. Mr. Copley – so strong in “District 9” — is a saving grace, although Murdock is given the single defining trait of being awfully kooky.

The testosterone assault only relents when the characters lovingly stare at the Army Rangers tattoos on each others’ biceps. In his quest to bring the best of '80s action to the big screen, Mr. Carnahan nails the homoeroticism but forgets the fun.

The A-Team

Opens on June 11 in the United States and on July 30 in Britain.

Directed by Joe Carnahan; written by Mr. Carnahan, Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, based on the television series; director of photography, Mauro Fiore; edited by Roger Barton and Jim May; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Charles Wood; costumes by Betsy Heimann; produced by Stephen J. Cannell, Spike Seldin, Tony Scott, Jules Daly, Alex Young and Iain Smith; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Liam Neeson (Hannibal Smith), Bradley Cooper (Face), Jessica Biel (Charissa Sosa), Quinton Jackson (B. A. Baracus), Sharlto Copley (Howlin’ Mad) and Patrick Wilson (Lynch).

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