An exercise in over-the-top ridiculousness, "A-Team" works because it knows precisely what it is: this is a big, over-the-top (squared) popcorn movie, with some terrific action sequences that manages to add some genuinely funny moments within the structure of a serious adventure. The film focuses on "The A-Team": Army Rangers Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), "Face" (Bradley Cooper), Murdock (Sharlto Copley, from "District 9") and B.A. Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) - a group of army rangers who find themselves thrown together and decide to become an army unit. As one of the army's most respected and successful units, they are called upon to take back a bunch of money printing plates that were stolen.
Upon their successful return, the tables are turned by the head of a Blackwater-like organization, resulting in the plates being stolen and the A-team being framed. When CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) approaches Smith with a possible deal, he agrees and gets the team back together to search for the plates and to prove their innocence. This leads to a journey across the globe while they remain on the run from Face's former flame (Jessica Biel), who has made it her responsibility to track them down.
The film offers up the occasional surprises and double crosses - there's not a great deal to the plot, but director Joe Carnahan certainly pulls together enough chaos to fill the nearly two hour time frame. The film's finale is moderately incoherent, but the previous ones are enjoyably absurd, including an airborne tank battle that's both well-done and amusing in its ridiculousness (and in terms of the latter, just when the scene couldn't get more over-the-top, it manages to do so in superb fashion.) Some of the film seems to pull from the visual bag of tricks of Tony Scott (the film is produced by the Scott Brothers' production company, Scott Free) and a few of the visual effects moments are a touch inconsistent, but this was overall a
The performances are mostly enjoyable, but there are a few negatives. The main negative is Biel - while not a bad actress, this is a thin role and her performance is bland. Neeson is somewhat miscast in the role, but he certainly gives it his best try in the role as Smith. Copley's terrific (and it's another enjoyable performance after his marvelous effort in "9") and Cooper looks as if he's having a great time in the role. Jackson's debut performance could be better, but he works reasonably well in the role.
Overall, this isn't going to go down as a classic action film and certainly isn't going to find itself at the Oscars. However, I found it to be a solid popcorn movie that does a terrific job not taking itself too seriously. Not classic, but certainly a good deal of fun.
The disc includes both the theatrical cut and the longer extended cut.
VIDEO: "A Team" is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) by 20th Century Fox. For the most part, the movie looked crisp and clean, with good small object detail showing in a number of scenes. Only a few moments here-and-there looked slightly softer than the rest. Some minor edge enhancement was seen during a handful of scenes, but this was the only significant concern - otherwise, the glossy picture looked smooth and clean. Colors tended to be a tad on the cooler side, but the presentation certainly delivered colors that appeared accurate to the intent.
SOUND: The film's rock 'em, sock 'em DTS-HD 5.1 presentation was great fun from beginning to end. Action-heavy, the picture's over-the-top mentality extended to the audio, with the surrounds boasting all sorts of effects and other details. Overall, an aggressive, enveloping - and powerful - presentation, with terrific moments of low-end bass. Audio quality was satisfactory, too, with crisp dialogue and well-recorded score.
EXTRAS: "The Devil's in the Details" is a picture-in-picture audio/video commentary from director/writer Joe Carnahan, who offers a good track, discussing a lot of the production details behind some of the film's biggest sequences, as well as a number of other behind-the-scenes tidbits. We also get the "Plan of Attack" making-of documentary, character featurettes, a visual FX featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and trailers for other titles from the studio. A digital copy of the film is included, as well.
Final Thoughts: Not a classic by any means, but "The A-Team" is a couple of hours of old-fashioned action fun, with mostly solid performances and a couple of particularly memorable action sequences. The Blu-Ray offers stellar audio/video quality, and a nice helping of extra features. Recommended.
The Film B+