From “21 Jump Street” to “Who’s the Boss”, when you think back on the goldmine of brutally awesome television, the 1980s reigned supreme. Hollywood has dipped its mug into the cauldron of 1980s goodness for a crack at re-inventing The A-Team for 2010 movie audiences.
Before we continue, we know that little to none of these remakes are received positively. Let’s all get over it: NO ONE will ever be as cool as Mr. T as B.A. Baracus. Leave out the gripe that “no one writes new stuff anymore”. That seems to be the biggest hurdle that remakes face; let’s just assume that we already know these things.
Accomplished and multi-tasking director Joe Carnahan, the force behind the wildly creative Smokin’ Aces, takes the helm in the A-Team re-make. There will be a loyalty to the show as original show creator Stephen J. Cannell produced the movie, along with Jules Daly, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.
Carnahan will be picking up the storyline with the pilot of the television show. The leads are still in line to be convicted of a crime that they never committed. There will be two definite nemesis characters. Carnahan has been recorded as saying that previous scripts were too “slavishly dedicated to the old show”. To be topical, Carnahan redrafted the story on a withdrawal from the Middle East, an emphasis on a more drama and a slight departure from the overly cheese-tactic, sometimes campy vibe.
Oscar winner Liam Neeson anchors the A-Team as Lt. John “Hannibal” Smith. His signature tag line is “I love it when a plan comes together.” Hannibal earns respect as a master planner of inventive, usually split-second plans. In the stills that I’ve seen, Neeson has nailed the squint and cigar chomp of a great Hannibal with a sexier swagger than the original.
Hannibal’s group of soldiers includes Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as our Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck, more simply just “Face”. Face’s talent is slick talking and the art of persuasion; procuring nearly anything for the team’s usage. Cooper’s smartass brand of machismo can go wrong in other projects but I think he is perfect for this slippery playboy character.
Ultimate Fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is Sgt. Bosco “B.A.” Baracus, the team’s driver and, obviously, the muscle. Producers were considering “The Game” for the role of “B.A.”, which would have been a huge mistake. The intimidation and attitude that B.A. calls for is evident by Rampage’s presence. From what I have seen, he has a bit more range; he’s not all Mr. T all the time. Depending on your B.A. preference, this could please or disappoint you. Make no mistake: this is by no means a kinder, gentler B.A. Baracus. Rampage packs a menacing, silent confidence and intensity. Rampage seems to translate to today’s audiences what Mr. T was to audiences back in the day.
The fourth member of our A-Team is Sharlto Copely (District 9), taking on Capt. “Howling Mad” Murdock. Murdock was the borderline insane yet gifted pilot. Carnahan was quoted as saying that Copley’s vast improvisational skills made him a no-brainer for the role of unpredictable Murdock. There is even a confirmed sighting of the original Murdock, Dwight Schultz, in a cameo role in the movie.
Jessica Biel rounds out the cast as Capt. Charisa Sosa with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Her character is also a former flame of Face’s, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition, as she is pursuing the guys for a crime they didn’t commit. She wants the A-Team shut down immediately; she doesn’t care for the renegade element.
Keep in mind that Biel is not the only antagonist for our heroes. Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) will dazzle us as Lynch, the mysterious CIA operate that will be a key part in an explosive mission. Carnahan has also hinted that he needed a secondary nemesis for an unclear, yet unfortunate ending. If you’re not an A-Team nerd, Lynch was the original guy in the pilot that was chasing them. He has been made over as a CIA operative, or what I have determined to be the “disposable maybe-brought-back-to-life-later villain”.
The A-Team was a television heavyweight and the movie has potential. With scenes that include Face shooting bad guys from a parachuting military tank, the action is fast and furious. The entire movie is shot in a matte palette of colors influenced by drab olives and grays. The premise is plausible and intriguing: four soldiers wrongfully committed of a crime they didn’t commit. And the plot progression is designed for adrenaline-boosting: the men break free and four soldiers of fortune are forged, forced on the lam and doing good by kicking ass.
The A-Team is everything cool about rogue attitude. The action and sassy bravado coupled with glossy characters will impress audiences. I do think this movie has potential to be fun and entertaining. You probably won’t have any existential awakenings, but come on. It’s the summer. Live a little.