19th July 2010
The A-Team (TBC)
Reviewed by Tristan Hanks
Classic TV shows remade for the screen are often tricky to pull off, the producers either opt for the comedic makeover as shown in ‘Starsky & Hutch’ to poor effect or decide to play it straight like the cringe worthy ‘Miami Vice’, which may have been improved with a tongue in cheek approach. With something as cherished as ‘The A-Team’ it seems the right formula may have been found. Mixing laughs with big budget action would seem to be the only way to emulate this most classic of TV shows and if the casting hits the spot then this franchise may be back from the dead.
There were wild rumours before production began about who would play the iconic soldiers of fortune, with fans on the internet even chipping in with their own suggestions (Clooney as Hannibal , Pitt as Face etc). In the end the role of Hannibal Smith fell to Liam Neeson, who after his hard man performance in the recent ‘Taken’ pulls off the cigar chewing silver fox with aplomb. There were doubts about whether he could fill George Peppard’s shoes but he takes it all in his stride and from the opening scenes proves he is still one of Hollywood true stars with his commanding performance holding the film together.
Most iconic of the A-Team members has to be B.A. Baracus and here he is played by the relatively unknown former Ultimate Fighting Champion, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson who from the minute we see his knuckles tattooed with the legendary words ‘Pity’ and ‘Fool’ makes the role his own, whereas a more famous face may not have worked as well. The most famous Face is played superbly by ‘The Hangover’s’ Bradley Cooper who brings as much humour as he does charisma to the role. The final and often most popular member of the team is crazy pilot Murdoch. Sharlto Copley of ‘District 9’ fame had to do an improvised audition for the role which must have been great because he inhabits the ex mental patients character with all the tics and voices that made the original howlin' mad Murdoch so much fun to watch.
After a impressive set up showing how some of the characters meet, the film then fast forwards eight years to the Iraq war where The A-Team work for the army as a type of special ops gang only used for the most secret of missions. This time they have to recover some plates that are to be used for printing millions of dollars on a newly constructed mint somewhere in Baghdad. They have rivals though in the shape of CIA agents Lynch and Pike, who through witty one liners and double crossing get the boys arrested for killing the esteemed General Morrison. Jessica Biel also pops up as Face’s love interest who against her better judgment tries to help the boys. Once in jail and stripped of their war hero status they soon revert to type and try to clear their names as they did in every episode of the TV show.
The spirit of the original is palpable in every scene with the team wise-cracking as they take ridiculous risks leading to some fantastical action scenes where people are shot at, a lot. We find out why B.A. hates flying, see Face charm every woman he meets, watch Murdoch pretend to be Braveheart and Blue Man Group in one scene and hear Hannibal utter the classic line ‘I love it when a plan comes together’ as he sparks up another stogie. The stunts are incredible and the storyline is constantly propelled forward by a neat trick of having the group explain their plans as we are shown them being applied.
No doubt the surround sound and large screen of the multiplex adds to the enjoyment of this very silly film but it still ticks all the boxes for fans of the TV show, past and present. Anyone who grew up with these guys will enjoy this action fest and will struggle to find a weak spot in the proceedings. Some of the jokes fall flat and occasionally things get too techy with weapons and FX but anyone going into this film expecting to be challenged in any way may be disappointed as this is perfect example of a mindless action movie and makes no apologies for it. Those seeking a nostalgia fix may also want to stay until after the credits roll for a treat that will bring a smile to many a thirty year olds face. The films tagline states there is ‘no plan B’ but if this film is a success there will no doubt be a disappointing sequel for all the fan boys to admonish, but as it goes this one get an A for effort.