Cinepub


Review: The A-Team by Jamie

Pretty much spoiler free.

In the early 80s a TV show burst on to the screen with a hail of bullets (bullets that never hit anyone but you were fucked if you were a tyre.) That show was ‘The A-Team’ and everyone loved it. Literally everyone. Seriously, who the fuck doesn’t love The A-Team? If you answered “Me” then get out of here. I don’t need your type reading this blog… No, that’s mean. You can stay, I guess, but re-evaluate your life. Something has gone very, very wrong.

Why did we love the A-Team? Well, the opening intro and theme certainly had something to do with it. Let’s watch it now, won’t we?

See? You open a show like that and there’s no way in hell that the audience is going anywhere until that show’s final credits are rolling. There’s something about that theme tune that stirs the very souls of men. All men from all walks of life. If you begin humming the first few notes of that song, any man around you will join in. Then try getting that theme out of your head. It’s damn near impossible. In fact it’s a pretty sweet song to use if you’ve got something else stuck in your head. Go on, go listen to something guaranteed to get stuck in your head say ‘Africa’ by Toto or something and then listen to The A-Team theme. See, worked didn’t it?

So yes, we all have great love for the original series. So I personally met the first rumblings of a big screen version of an A-Team film with some trepidation and slight excitement. I remember first hearing about it years ago with people like Ice Cube and Jim Carrey attached at various points but then for a while it seemed as though everything had died down and the film was pretty much dead. Then came the announcements in 2009 that it was most definetly on, Liam Neeson was Hannibal, Bradley Cooper was Face, Sharlto Copley was Murdock and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was B.A. Baracus. That same mixture of trepidation and excitement found it’s back into my mind.

So does this film live up to our memories of that original series? Well, in a way. Let’s get things straight right of the bat. This isn’t ‘Inception’. This isn’t some massive, high-art experiment in film making. It’s a film based on The A-Team, a beloved but admittedly cheesy TV show from the 80s so it doesn’t need to be. All I went into this film hoping was that it would be fun and keep at least somewhat true to the feel of the series.

Well, it certainly succeeds on the fun part. I certainly felt as though I had been entertained by the time that the end credits rolled. There’s enough crazy action shit going on here to keep the average A-Team fan entertained. There’s a tank falling from a plane with the team using it’s massive gun to help them to land. There’s a great scene early on with the team executing a massive elaborate plan in order to recover some US treasury plates from a shady group of mercenaries called Black Forest (Yeah, it’s not the most subtle of films) and the whole final showdown, whilst not as fun as some of the earlier stuff, does have a bazooka blowing a whole in a massive freight ship. So that’s cool.Oh, there’s also a kick ass scene involving a 3D movie and the original theme but to say too much would be giving it away.

But what about staying true to the spirit of the show? Well, for the most part I thought it actually captured it pretty well. The characters are fun, fairly decent adaptations of the ones from the 80s. Their interactions are enjoyable and, especially in the case of BA and Murdock, fairly accurate to the way they interacted in the show. There are, however, a few problems. First off, they actually shoot and kill people. What the hell? That’s not the A-Team I know and love. Hell, BA even breaks a dudes back and kills him at some point. I can see why Mr T didn’t exactly enjoy the film and said it focused a little too much on the violence.

Still, I feel as though some of this can be forgiven because of the nature of the film. You see this is very much an origin story, beginning just before the team has actually formed. Murdock meets BA in a desert in Mexico in one of the most ridiculous coincidences put on screen since Kirk stumbled across future Spock on the ice planet in the recent Star Trek film. They then go and save Face before busting Murdock out of a mental institution. It then cuts to 8 years and 80 successful missions later and you actually get to see them getting convicted for he crime they didn’t commit before busting out of jail and trying to hunt down the bastards who framed them in order to clear there name. To sum up, these guys aren’t yet the soldiers of fortune hiding out in the Los Angeles underground. They aren’t going up against over-zealous land developers and corrupt law enforcement officers. They’re fighting military, mercenaries and agents of the CIA. It makes sense for them to be a little more violent at this stage in their lives. I just hope if they do make a sequel and they are taking jobs and going against smaller scale bad guys they don’t kill them. They’d better not accept any cash either.

So what of the acting? Did the new guys manage to bring the old characters to life as we remembered them? Well, Liam Neeson is pretty much doing what Liam Neeson does, playing kind of a more lighted version of his character from ‘Taken’ but it works quite well as John “Hannibal” Smith, the older, gruff guy who’s seen some shit in his time and has a plan worked out in his mind for every situation. A plan, by the way, he is always glad for the coming together of. Did they make sense? I don’t care. Speaking of plans though, there are certain goddamn times throughout the film where I swear every fifth or sixth word out of Hannibal‘s mouth is the word plan. It really started to grate on my nerves.

Bradley Cooper is pretty much the perfect choice for Templeton “Face” Peck. I never really liked Face in the original TV show and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was just something about his cocky, smarminess that never sat right with me but I really enjoyed the character here. He’s just as cocky and just as smarmy and it just works. Maybe it’s because he’s kind of the main character here so he gets more to do whereas in the original series he always seemed like the one who had the least to do and he just didn’t stand out as much compared to the other three. But yeah, Cooper really pulls Face of well. He‘s even got that same kind of smile that Dirk Bennedict used to flash in the show.

Now, what can I say about Sharlto Copley? The man is a fucking great actor. He was brilliant in my favourite film last year, District 9, and he is perfect in the role of H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. He manages to capture that wackiness that Dwight Schultz used to bring to the character and is pretty damn funny throughout. They even managed to make him a little bit dangerously insane, at one point even going so far as to set Face on fire, apparently just for the fun of it which I enjoyed because to be fair, the character in the show never really seemed Howling Mad, he just seemed a bit eccentric.

The weakest link in the film by far is Quinton Jackson as Bosco “Bad Attitude” Baracus. There are times when he’s pretty much just imitating Mr. T and I suppose that if you playing B.A. Baracus in an A-Team film that’s kind of all you can do. In the original show the other actors seemed to actually be playing characters whereas Mr. T was just being Mr. T. Still, there are a lot of times when his line delivery just falls really flat. Still this is his first film role and I do think he’s got a lot of potential and good be quite a good actor if he works at it. I also really enjoyed his on screen chemistry with Sharlto Copley. They really seemed to capture the antagonistic relationship that the two had on the show. You also get to find out just why B.A. is afraid of flying which is a nice touch. Still, having Pity and Fool tattooed on his knuckles is a bit much.

There’s also the ‘fifth member’ of The A-Team, the van. All I’ll say is what happens to the van really, really pissed me off. Mother fuckers. It seems as though remakes nowadays always have to do something to destroy or mock something from the original. There’s Bubo the Owl in the Clash of the Titans remake, the ruining of the fly scene in The Karate Kid remake and what happens to the van here. I love that van and this is a damn outrage.

As for the rest of the cast well, let’s do a quick summary. Jessica Biel is really just there to move the plot along and be a love interest for Face which she does satisfactorily. Patrick Wilson is actually pretty fun as the C.I.A. Agent Lynch, being just slimy enough to be a fairly convincing villain and Brian Bloom is also pretty enjoyable as the slightly unhinged Brock Pike, a man who at one point seems to accept death as long as he isn’t shot by the incompetent C.I.A. agent who can’t even attach a silencer to a gun correctly.

So, what can I really say to sum up? Well, all in all the film is a fun, summer blockbuster that captures at least something of the spirit of the original show. Whilst I said that the actors did I pretty good job portraying the original characters, they still aren’t THE A-Team and they never will be but they are probably the best we could have hoped for. Well, maybe not Quinton Jackson but could they ever really find someone to fill Mr. T’s boots? Of course not and I still have faith that he will grow as an actor and be better if they do a sequel. And I really hope for a sequel. I really want to see the team become the soldiers of fortune they were in the show, helping out the little guy in small desert towns. Until then I’ll say that if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy this. It won’t be everything you’d hope it could have been but you’ll have a good time, especially considering some of the shit that’s come out this year. I rate The A-Team three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

BONUS CONTENT!: Here’s a special message from the big man himself. I pity the fool who doesn’t take his advice.

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