The A-Team (Blu-ray)

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

An elite Iraq War special ops unit, led by Colonel Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson, Taken), finds itself framed for a crime they didn’t commit. Smith, Face (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover), Murdock (Shartlo Copley, District 9) and B.A. (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) promptly escape from prison and embark on a fact-finding mission to uncover the scumbags behind the plot.

As they elude the pursuing authorities and a series of bad guys shooting in their (very) general direction, they will come to form an unbreakable bond of brotherhood and spirit, bound together by the enduring nobility of self-sacrifice and courage; learning the depths of each other’s flaws…Who am I kidding? They just blow a lot of stuff up.

Many big-screen adaptations of nostalgia-pumping TV shows run the risk of alienating fan bases and I can see Joe Carnahan’s interpretation of Stephen J. Cannell’s The A-Team tweaking the die-hards. But let’s be honest: it’s not like the source mythology is so complex and archetypal that it makes it beyond reproach to tinker with the plot. The show — which like most children of the ’80s, I adored — is little more than four cartoonish action guys driving around in an awesome van, solving people’s problems and firing off hundreds of thousands of automatic rounds without killing a single soul. My favorite no-death A-Team scene involved the bad guys flying a helicopter into a cliff face, which explodes and then, moments later, they emerge unscathed.

That was the show. It was campy, predictable (hint: it’s the corrupt sheriff behind the shady land deal!), loud and entertaining. And that’s the movie.




Which is a cop out, I know. The term is typically used to gloss over a movie’s stark deficiencies, excusing brutal crap with a trite cliché, much like “turn your brain off.” It’s a sentiment I usually endorse, but rare to come across something that so deserves the cliché as The A-Team.

The dilapidated helicopter dodging heat-seeking missiles? Dumb!

The drug-runners getting blown to smithereens from a border patrol jet? Fun!

A sniper whiffing repeatedly on shooting a giant man slowly descending a high-rise and then blasting the tiny bolts off of some scaffolding with expert precision? Dumb!

The last-minute swoop-in helicopter hijacking in the middle of a crowded city street! Fun!

Flying a tank and landing it in a lake? Dumb!

Flying a tank and landing it in a lake? Fun!

Fox’s Blu-ray measures up to the feature’s blockbuster status, bringing a solid 2.35:1, 1080p transfer (AVC @ 18 MBPS) and a suitably aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Picture quality is high end, though the copious use of CGI suffers (notably the big sequence at the end and the tank dive). Still, when things remain down-to-earth and practical, the detail pops.

Extras: a glorified commentary track by Carnahan on the theatrical version, two large HD behind-the-scenes featurettes looking at the production and the characters, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a throw-away action montage set to the TV theme song.

Not Guilty. I maintain the fun-to-dumb ratio is balanced in the favor of good times.

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