There are several elements necessary for a film to be a top-notch summer blockbuster: attractive actors who can have a good time doing ridiculous things on film; lots of over-the-top chases, preferably in multiple types of vehicles; gunfights and explosions; and amusing banter. "The A-Team" has them all in spades. This movie is so far over the top that the line between realism and ridiculousness is pretty much invisible.

In case you somehow missed being exposed to the original television series, the team of the title consists of four men: Hannibal (Liam Neeson) is the cigar-chomping commander who loves it when a plan comes together; Face (Bradley Cooper) is the smooth con artist; B.A. Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) is a genius mechanic who's also good with his tattooed fists; and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) is their savant of a pilot, who may or may not be clinically out of his mind. The series had the four written as Vietnam veterans; the film has updated things a bit so that it can take place in the present day.

The film starts in the middle of an operation in Mexico where Hannibal and Face wind up running into and recruiting Baracus and Murdock. Once united, they're an unbeatable team, so when a nigh-impossible job needs doing while U.S. troops are pulling out of Iraq, they're brought in. As anyone who watched the old show can tell you, the job was a setup and the team is framed. They break out and set about clearing their names, with many, many, many ridiculous

and awesome hijinks along the way.

The actors are spot-on. Neeson is mostly known for serious roles, but he is perfectly capable of not taking himself seriously, and he demonstrates that here with ease. Copley was last seen as desperate, mutating Wikus in "District 9," and it's astonishing to see him as Murdock. He steals almost every scene he's in which is an achievement when he's sharing screen time with Cooper, who is both a pretty face and a solid actor. Jackson is excellent as Baracus, and handles the small bits of character development he's handed well. As nasty CIA agent Lynch, Patrick Wilson is smooth, slimy, and very funny; he makes a good foil for the team.

Most importantly, all the actors seem to be having a great time.

This wouldn't be an A-Team story without lots of crazy chases, escapes, and battles, and the film doesn't disappoint. Anyone who's seen the trailers knows that at one point the team is in a tank that gets dropped out of an airplane; what's left out of the trailers is the way the team manages to steer it so that it can land safely in spite of losing two of its parachutes. The action keeps the same fun, cartoonish feel as the original show, just with a much, much bigger budget.

The script is solid, and the dialogue both entertains and helps us get to know and like the characters. Like a lot of the best blockbusters, if you're sharp and paying attention, there are lots of little moments of hilarity strewn through the film. But if you're distracted by something and mostly watching for the action, it's still a great flick there aren't long waits between action scenes.

"The A-Team" is a perfect summer movie. It's funny, lighthearted, entertaining, and a great way to spend a couple hours out of the heat.

It's not intellectual, educational, or even realistic, but it is a heck of a lot of fun. If that's the kind of movie you like, do not miss it and be sure to stay after the credits, especially if you're a fan of the original show. If you're looking for a serious, smart film, though, go somewhere else.

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Ealasaid A. Haas is a local film buff and freelance writer. Contact her at, or check out her website: