Like the ’80s TV series it’s based on, The A-Team is incredibly simple-minded stuff. The saving grace of both series and film is that the four main characters, Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), “Face” (Bradley Cooper), and Mad Dog Murdock (Sharlto Copley), are so damn likable. Copley (Wikus in last year’s District 9) and Neeson get most of the film’s best moments, but even supporting players Jessica Biehl and Ray Liotta are given a chance shine in between the explosions and shoot-outs. There’s not much to the plot about the Special Forces team that tries to clear their name after it gets framed for stealing U.S. currency printing plates, but plenty of fight scenes, ridiculous stunts, and clever jokes keep you from noticing just how flimsy the whole thing is. Director Joe Carnahan, who made the equally dumb and entertaining Smokin’ Aces, strikes just the right tone here. He doesn’t take the material too seriously, and he doesn’t try to camp up what was already a pretty silly concept. Normally, movies like this have no business going past the 90 minute mark, but Carnahan’s pacing keeps the film from dragging even at a full two hours. ***
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