John Hannibal Smith took his sweet time before devising a plan that would get his motley crew of army rejects The A-Team onto the big screen... which might explain the amount of explosions in Joe Carnahan's adaptation of the immensely popular TV show. Liam Neeson leads the rebooted A-Team as they attempt to clear their names when, of course, accused of a crime they didn't commit.
Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson
By the end of the opening credits, it's pretty obvious how director Joe Carnahan intends to treat his adaptation of the 80s TV show. And this is a director not bound to bouts of subtlety.
Carnahan was picked for a reason - this version of The A-Team is supposed to be about as silly as an action movie can reasonably get, and Joe was the director of Smokin' Aces.
The A-Team opens with a sequence that brings the boys together for the first time. From upside down helicopters to exploding Mexican warlords, there are enough stunts in the opening sequence to sustain the rest of the summer's releases combined. But Joe's only just got started.
Once together, the story skips eight years. The team are based in Iraq, running missions and looking forward to the end of their Middle Eastern stint. Enter a shady CIA operative to give them a job only they could pull off - the recovery of money-making plates that, when in the right hands, could produce millions of US dollars.
The team make the snatch, head back to HQ, and get double-crossed. Jailed and stripped of their army statuses, it's only a matter of time before they break out of jail and head off to set the record straight.
If it sounds like all the classic A-Team elements are there, it's because they are. Carnahan's listed about every A-Team cliche and dropped it into the mix. Murdock in a psychiatric ward? Check. BA's fear of flying? Check. Hannibal's penchant for cigars? Check.
Even the main theme of the movie is, wisely, about putting a plan together. So if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you've got the remote control...
Yet, somehow, this is not the A-Team you remember. The group help no one but themselves, kill henchman with aplomb and are only up against their own, clearly very corrupt military.
Of more concern is the characterisation. BA, for instance, has a sense of humour (wrong, wrong and wrong again), renounces violence and grows his hair (this may be the only action movie that justifies its excesses by quoting Gandhi), while Face finds himself trying to emulate Hannibal's head for planning.
It's almost as if an internet fan club wrote a script then hired a screenwriter to add serious movie stuff like character arcs.
The irony is, it's the fanboy stuff that works best. This is light-hearted, popcorn fare, not to be taken seriously. Treat it as such and it's difficult to fault. This is, after all, a movie that includes four men flying a parachuting tank by firing the gun in various directions.
Still, the action is well handled (although the special effects are surprisingly ropey) and the cast do an admirable job, particularly Sharlto Copley as Murdock, the team's resident loony, and the ever-dependable Bradley Cooper, sleazing it up as smooth-talking Face.
By the time the woeful finale plays out (even if the special effects were up to snuff, the location is rather rubbish, and sadly not a cattle ranch) the audience will already have decided for themselves if The A-Team really needed a plan B.