Hollywood’s desperately unoriginal propensity for remaking or ‘revamping’ anything it can get its filthy rich hands on charges onwards and just about upwards with Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team. Carnahan’s back catalogue includes such mindless actionfests as Blood, Guts, Bullets And Octane and the two Smokin’ Aces films, so it comes as no surprise that his take on The A-Team is similarly testosterone-fuelled.
From a slick but entirely absurd extended introductory sequence, the film goes on to consist predominantly of non-stop action set pieces for almost the entirety of its 117 minute running time. This is not to say that the end product is unenjoyable, far from it, but be warned, any misjudged hope of cerebral stimulation will leave you severely disappointed.
The plot, about as formulaic as cheese on toast without the added delight of Worcestershire sauce, is given the apparently compulsory update to Iraq instead of Vietnam and, of course, sees our beloved team framed for a crime they didn’t commit. Cue prison breakouts, inexplicably complicated plans, outrageous action, deafeningly loud explosions, love interest, riotously boisterous banter, subsequently hurt feelings and millions of pounds worth of damage.
The A-Team captures the excitement, boyish charm, and entirely preposterous nature of the original TV series.
All this structured around a plot so flimsy and riddled with holes that it wouldn’t be out of place as a climbing net in a children’s playground. None of the action is based in reality and as result it’s ludicrous beyond imagination, yet in some strange way, that’s what makes it so amazingly excellent. I can’t think of the last time I saw such an ingeniously off-the-wall proposal of how best to control a tank as it plummets from the sky. Then again, how often do you see that anyway?
Add this to the best chopper chase you’ve ever seen and a brilliant set piece mocking the 3D craze that’s taken Hollywood by storm recently and you’re only just getting started. The most endearing thing about the whole film however, as it was with the TV series, is the characters. Liam Neeson imbues the cigar munching Col. John “Hannibal” Smith with grit and integrity, despite lacking the cheeky arrogance of the late George Peppard, while Quinton “Rampage” Jackson puts the Brutal Assertion into a slightly more fragile B.A Baracus. Mr. T would pity the fool. The real show stoppers here though are Bradley Copper as the charismatic and irresistibly charming Templeton “Faceman” Peck and Sharlto Copley as the wonderfully-unhinged “Howling Mad” Murdock.
There’s something innately pleasurable about watching performances as excellent as theirs and it makes it hard to imagine any other actors having had such blatant fun whilst earning their tupance. It may not be moving, intellectual or even remotely logical but The A-Team captures the excitement, boyish charm, and entirely preposterous nature of the original TV series. Disengage your mind, prepare for the ridiculous and if you liked the TV series, you’re in for a treat.