You don't exactly have to hold a doctorate in advanced maturity to enjoy "The A-Team." There's a big difference in what entertains the kid and what entertains the kid still living in the adult, and this falls into the latter category.
Of course, you know by now that the picture was inspired by the 1983-87 TV series, so that's all we need to say about that.
The team is comprised of four Army Rangers so bad-ass, they make your average superheroes look like the Junior Woodchucks. They're lead by cigar-chomping Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson, "Clash of the Titans"). Second is Face (Bradley Cooper, "Valentine's Day"), then comes B.A. Baracus (mixed-martial-arts fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, "The Midnight Meat Train") and, finally, hotshot pilot and lunatic Murdock (Sharlto Copley, "District 9").
As our military is pulling out of Iraq " that's how you know this whole thing is a fantasy " the team is sent to steal a set of counterfeit $100 printing plates created by Saddam Hussein to help wreck the American economy. And you didn't even know he worked for Goldman Sachs.
Anyway, our guys are double-crossed by a Blackwater security-style punk named Pike (co-writer Brian Bloom, "Smokin' Aces"), who kills their Army liaison Gen. Morrison (Gerald McRaney, TV's "Deadwood") and sends the whole crew to prison. No one believes in their innocence, although two people dabble in believing it. One is Face's former gal, Capt. Sosa (Jessica Biel, "Valentine's Day"), and a CIA spook who calls himself Lynch (Patrick Wilson, "Watchmen"), who offers to help Hannibal escape if he will find the still-missing plates.
And the chase is on.
The picture is pretty much all chases and explosions and killing extras, then making snarky jokes about it. You can't take any of this stuff seriously, as some reviewers are doing, because you'll not only miss the point and look silly doing it, but you'll also miss the fun.
Of course, there's no character development. These are comic creations defined by their primary traits. Hannibal is the cocksure leader who cares for his men, but hates to admit it out loud. Face is the slick con man. Baracus is the tough guy, and Murdock is the loony who is never quite as crazy as he wants you to think he is. These character types couldn't be any more at home if they were in an Italian Renaissance comedy.
Joe Carnahan ("Smokin' Aces") directs in a flashy style that still allows your eyes enough time to decipher what they're seeing. The script lives up to the billing given it by the on-screen characters, who mention cartoons and video games often.
When the movie was over, a woman sitting next to me in the theater asked me what I thought of it. I said it was fun and looked like the filmmakers wanted to produce a sequel. She agreed and said she was ready right then.
So was I. "Doug Bentin