The A-Team was always about the personalities: John "Hannibal" Smith, Templeton “Face” Peck, “Howling Mad” Murdoch and Bosco Albert Baracus (that's "BA" or Bad Attitude"). It’s fairly obvious from the names alone that these are caricatures and not authentic war veterans in the mould of Travis Bickle. So it comes as some surprise that Liam Neeson was cast as ranking officer (and man with the plan) to lead this larger-than-life squad of caricatures onto celluloid. He may be a good actor but, let’s face it, he’s never been the most interesting and here he looks uncomfortable. For knockabout fun like this you need someone with an easy charm and a rogue-ish glint in their eye. It was most likely unsubstantiated rumour but, speaking as a badge-wearing member of his fan club, I was still disappointed when it turned out George Clooney wasn’t playing Smith. Actually, Bradley Cooper is superbly cast as charmer Templeton “Face” Peck, and Sharlto Copley makes an appropriately nuts “Howling Mad” Murdoch but the other two are not great: Neeson we’ve touched upon, and hey, there’s never going to be anyone quite like Mr T.
Neeson’s casting is reflective of the film in general. It’s all a bit unexciting. Amazing really, how so much can be happening (i.e. ‘splosions) and it is described thus. But if you don’t care about the characters it’s hard to care about what’s exploding. It does, however, have some entertainment value - there are some very creative action set-pieces, and there are a few laughs to be had. It’s a little more grounded in reality than its cartoonish TV incarnation but maybe that takes the fun out of it. The action is transposed to
but the titular team are still accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Iraq
Joe Carnahan showed startling promise with his debut, Narc. He switched gears for his next feature four years later, with the lighter Smokin’ Aces. With a gap of four years since he last directed, he is swiftly becoming the Terence Malick of action cinema. (That’s an attempt at humour, by the way.)