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Screen » Film

Confounding War Porn, Anyone? The A-Team gets a tone-deaf reboot

The A-Team is a creepily bizarre weirdo of a movie that’ll wreck your day.

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The A-Team is a creepily bizarre weirdo of a movie that'll wreck your day. Eager to see it because you whiled away happy childhood hours watching Hannibal, B.A., Face and Murdock don disguises, build wacky tanks, flip cars and help with problems no one else could help with? Well, what you'll get movie-wise is a queasy gobbledygook of a party to which you're not invited.

Liam Neeson chews scenery as Hannibal Smith, leader of The A-Team. In the film's opening, he assembles his crack commando unit of egregious miscasting: sleepy ultimate fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as temperamental ass-kicker B.A. Baracus, District 9's unfunny Sharlto Copley as hilariously crazy Murdock, and shrill, pornographic Bradley Cooper as a smooth-talking ladies man Face. This tribute-band version of The A-Team heads for a wacky trifle of a war zone called Iraq, where they're framed for stealing counterfeit moneymaking plates and must then bust out of jail to clear their name.

Indeed, that's the plot: counterfeiters! It's that 80s and that boring. Forget about having a problem that no one else can help you with, because you can't call The A-Team - they're busy busting counterfeiters, whom you'll be surprised to find in the upper levels of that dastardly organization of elitist super-evil, the CIA.

The A-Team's Waterloo is the screenwriters getting stuck on Hannibal's signature line: "I love it when a plan comes together." Thus, the action digs existential holes by explaining the plans behind each action scene as said action scene unfolds. Huh? Let's try that again: action scenes happen while there are multiple flashbacks to The A-Team planning for the action scenes. Or in one case, an action scene takes place while Jessica Biel explains the action scene aloud while it also takes place on monitors showing the action scene taking place. Or, in other words, it's a mess.

Then there's the off-key right-wing agenda resembling any episode of Glenn Beck with extra cash-for-gold commercials. Of course, the U.S. government is a hydra of ultimate doom bent on destroying all that is good and noble, but there's also an ugly bit with cartoony Mexican bad guys being led across the Arizona border so the Air Force can blow them away. Fun! Also, get this: B.A. Baracus only wears his mohawk when he's into killing people. Then he decides he's not going to kill people and he's going to have normal hair and quote Ghandi. Hannibal replies to this pacifism by re-interpreting Ghandi as a willing killer if need be, so B.A. shaves his head and dispatches a villain via grim ultra-violence.

Not creepily bizarre enough? Wait until Liam Neeson, whose real-life wife Natasha Richardson died last year from a brain injury, has a crucial scene with an exploding head. Yes, you might want to revisit your youth by seeing The A-Team, but brace yourself for the kind of visit where your childhood home has been torn down and replaced by a DaVita Dialysis outlet.

The A-Team
★✩✩✩✩
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel
Rated PG-13

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