We're not asking for much these days. If everything is to be a remake or a retread, we the general public are only asking for solid effects and action paired with a somewhat coherent story. No, that's not much to ask, but quite a few of the summer films up to this point have whiffed on the "coherent story" aspect of the equation. Not The A-Team! It's a remake with verve. One-liners throughout, over-the-top and outlandish action, an internally logical plot structure. You'll take it. We'll take it. Consider it taken.
If you remember the original '80s series then you probably recall the cartoonish violence and emphasis on cracking wise. The film adaptation largely maintains the same tone, though of course modernized with slightly more violence to reflect our culture's ever growing fascination with bloodsport. The four central characters are well cast and updated, from Liam Neeson's Hannibal to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's B.A. Baracus. Both performances feature enough homage to please traditionalists while throwing in a few wrinkles to satisfy new recruits. Bradley Cooper, as Face, adds humor and sex appeal for potential date night attendees, while the work of Sharlto Copley as Murdock shouldn't be overlooked as it adds in that element of lunacy that original series held so dear.
The plot serves as more of a device to set up the action than anything else, but not to the film's detriment. The A-Team is wrongly accused, though the war is Iraq and not Vietnam, and of course the fellas want to restore their good names. That doing so requires an Ocean's Eleven-style caper is to be expected. That the film proceeds briskly and stylishly from the establishment of said caper plot point is a bonus.
What The A-Team has that films such as The Losers and Prince of Persia lack is a sense of purpose and clarity. Characters are quickly developed, sure, but they're consistent throughout the film. Action beats happen every few minutes, but they are in service of the larger story, and not just chucked in willy-nilly. Jokes are made, but not at the expense of the momentum of the film. Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson manage to add something in limited screen time. It's an enjoyable time at the movies. Remember when we did that kind of thing on a weekly basis? Those were the days.
For fans of action movies this is an easy call. You'll like this. If you're a fan of the original series it could go either way, though there can't be that many people keeping the ghost alive 22 years later. The A-Team is banking on the fact that you're holding on to pleasant, though mercifully non-specific memories of the franchise. You know, the type of person who hears the opening notes of the song in your head, but is a little rusty on B.A.'s whole "non-violent" crusade. You won't need to check your brain at the door, go ahead and bring it with you, but add in a healthy dose of smirking adolescent attitude and The A-Team will play. It'll play all day.