Joe Carnahan (Narc and Smokin’ Aces) brings his usual explosive energy to this big-screen adaptation of the hit television series, which kicks off with the now-standard segment because this A-Team unit isn’t your father’s beloved crew of salty Vietnam vets who were wrongly accused of a crime they didn’t commit. No, Carnahan’s big-screen A-listers (well, Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper are the only names with anything close to mainstream recognition and the jury’s still out on whether either of them can do more than surprise us with a sleeper) are Iraq War Army Rangers framed for botching the retrieval of U.S. plates to be used in an Iraqi counterfeiting scheme who are now on the run from a rogue counter-intelligence agent (Patrick Wilson) and a military officer (Jessica Biel) with personal ties to Face (Cooper).
The story, or the shorthand outline that’s in place, matters very little. The movie is all about comic-book-style propulsion — being faster than a speeding explosive bullet and barreling over tall buildings in a tank dropped from a plane.
The finale on a California dock might remind cinephiles of The Usual Suspects (and it would be tons of fun if the whole movie could have gone that route), but this big movie moment is so overblown it feels crazier than the assaultive mayhem audiences have come to expect from a Michael Bay production.
If that’s all we wanted, why not just hire Bay and let Carnahan retreat to the gritty underbelly where a real A-Team might lurk between big-ticket jobs? Grade: D+