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Sunday 09 October 2016

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The A-Team, review

The wrongs pile up in this depressing remake of the classic 80s TV show.

Dir: Joe Carnahan; Starring: Liam Neeson; Sharlto Copley; Jessica Biel; Rating: *

12A cert, 118 min

Fond memories of Saturday teatimes spent with Hannibal Smith and the rest of The A-Team? Prepare to have them squelched. The big-screen reboot unwittingly reviews itself, chiefly by peppering its script with apt exclamations every half-minute. “This is a mistake!”, screams someone. Yes, it’s a mistake. “This is so wrong!”. You bet. “This is beyond nuts, boss!”, Bradley Cooper’s in-your-face Face yells at Smith, played with what sounds like a nasty sore throat by Liam Neeson. “It gets better,” Smith croaks. No, it doesn’t.

Joe Carnahan’s movie, if it absolutely had to exist, needed a faux-tough, retro breeziness, to remind us at the very least of what might have been momentarily appealing about the show. Instead it’s all tough, all the time – an orgy of smarm and “edgy” contemporary swagger. You could call it state of the art, except that it represents the foundered state of a depressing art, laying on soulless digital mayhem without even the good grace to render the action competently.

Honestly, this thing makes Transformers 2 look soignée. It invents a new past for the team – they met eight years ago in Mexico, not ’Nam – and sets them up for the botched recovery of a dollar printing press stolen by Saddam’s henchmen. A rogue CIA man (Patrick Wilson, who has some snappy moments) gets them in this scrape – prison follows – and a US Army Captain (Jessica Biel, ever so dull in shades) hunts them when they’ve broken out.

The wrongs pile up: next to Mr T, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a minnow in the attitude stakes, and it’s ridiculous cheek to have his BA quoting Gandhi one minute, only to join in the final-reel bone-crunching when required. Sharlto Copley, so resourceful in District 9, is a frantically nutty Murdoch, but not a funny one, and Cooper confirms his credentials as perhaps the most smugly narcissistic performer since Eric (brother of Julia) Roberts. Neeson, for his part, deserves a special bad-remake award for gracing both this and Clash of the Titans in a single summer – he’s becoming a man-sized magnet for lousy destruction effects.

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