• MailChimp Widget

    GORDON AND THE WHALE NEWSLETTER



Theatrical Review: THE A-TEAM

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
June 11th, 2010

The A-Team

Rating: 3.5/5

DirectorJoe Carnahan
CastLiam NeesonBradley CooperSharlto Copley, Quintion "Rampage" Jackson, Jessica Biel
Writers: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods
StudioTwentieth Century Fox

When the big-screen adaptation of The A-Team was first announced my heart sank a little.  I spent countless days (months...years...) planning my schedule around daily blocks of television that featured The A-Team and MacGyver, so needless to say, I chose early on to maintain my allegiance to the original show by turning my nose up at every bit of news related to the project. That is, until I was asked to provide a review, at which point I had to clear my mind of bias, and try to focus on this project separately from the series that was known and loved by many, including myself.  However, as much as I tried to disconnect from the memories of the original, the more the film did to remind me of exactly what it was that made me love The A-Team to begin with.

The first act of the film focuses on the forming and bonding of the team.  While not much time is spent exploring this, with the combination of showing one of their missions, and then discussion of their reputation(s), the viewer should have no trouble believing that these are four bad dudes who would do anything for each other, as well as for their mission.  Yes, there is probably more time spent on action sequences than in-depth dialog, but remember, this is the A-TEAM, not Magnum P.I. or 21 Jump Street we're talking about here, so let's just try and take it easy.  Additionally, Carnahan segways into many of the action scenes in such a way that the audience is spared a lot of the negative space lulls that other movies would typically fill with more meaningless dialog, which any action movie lover should appreciate.  This presentation also echoes the feel of an old A-Team episode, moving from the development of a plan, into the plan, into Hannibal breaking out a cigar.

Moving into the middle of the movie, you see the A-Team set up for the crime they did not commit, and the consequences, including dishonorable discharges and imprisonment. Once again, there is no messing around as we fast forward in time six months and, under the influence and assistance of a CIA operative, the team begins to reassemble in order to clear their names and right wrongs.

By this point, the character roles are clearly defined.  Hannibal is the well-connected, determined leader of the group.  The old man that always thinks three steps ahead, and Liam Neeson does nothing to disappoint this persona.  There may not be an actor working right now who is more suited for the role of face than Bradley Cooper.  He reflected so many qualities of Dirk Benedict's Faceman, but Cooper's character comes off a little tougher, and maybe even a little smoother.  Sharlto Copley somehow managed to harness all the craziness, all of the pure, howling mad inside of Murdock, and yet be every bit as endearing as Dwight Schultz.  Then of course, there's the role that no one said could be replaced...that there was no way Rampage Jackson could pull off B.A. Baracus, and yet, he really did.  Jackson's portrayal of Bosco "Bad Attitude" Baracus has everything that Mr. T's character brought to the table, except for way too many appearances of the word "fool" in his lines.  He isn't working from the, "I want to be Mr. T" angle, but instead you see Baracus' mechanical skills, his fear of flying, his desire to not kill, his love for the beautiful black and red van, and of course, you get some pretty sweet mohawk action too.

All of the characters get their chance to display some of these little quirks at this point in the movie, as they are each in prisons completely separate from one another. Hannibal in his high security setting, Face with any perk you could imagine, including a guard who may be keeping him intimately accompanied, and a personal tanning bed...perks that only someone as smooth as Face could have arranged. B.A. uses his time to explore zen, and to clear his conscience, while Murdock ends up in a mental institution in Germany, where he remains ridiculously crazy.

As the team moves forward to clear their names and find the man who set them up, an operative outside of U.S. military, an independent contractor of death and destruction, they bring in one of Face's ex's, played by Jessica Biel, who also has a lot riding on the success of the A-Team in this situation.  While she doesn't bring a lot to the film, she's not bad, and for her to be one of Face's flames makes perfect sense in the A-Team world. The man loved the ladies.

THE A-TEAM culminates in a mostly predictable, big as Bay action sequence, complete with toppling train cars, motorcycle tricks, and the ever-present stand-off...but if you didn't expect that, what on Earth would you expect?

In the end, it's hard for me to see what anyone who would want to see THE A-TEAM would see so terribly wrong with it.  Sure, there are situations that are seemingly ridiculous, outrageous, whatever you want to say, but once again, this is THE A-TEAM.  I personally remember an episode where B.A. made the van bulletproof by using the panels from inside an elevator.  Is that realistic?  No, but it sure surprised the evil guys shooting at them, and made it possible for the team to accomplish their mission!  The original series was also not an in-depth, story driven series about crime and punishment, it was more like Dukes of Hazzard fighting organized, international crime.  It was a fun, action-packed television series that showed four guys operating outside of the rules, and getting the job done, which coincidentally is exactly what this film represents.

It's hard to believe that after I swore THE A-TEAM would leave me disappointed, and wondering why, oh why, someone would do this, I am instead wondering how many other non-believers I can convince to go see this flick.  In the end, it's the simple fact that Joe Carnahan stuck to a solid plan...keeping essential elements of the original, while also making it feel fresh and new...and as Hannibal Smith would say..."I love it when a plan comes together."

THE A-TEAM hits theaters everywhere today.

Commenting Rules: Comments are intended to open up the discussion to our readers about the topics at hand, and as such should be offered with a positive and constructive attitude. If your comment is not relative to the above post or is disrespectful to the authors and readers, we reserve the right to delete it. Continued abuse of our good nature will result in banishment of the offender. Additionally, if you have any burning issues to point out to the GATW crew - typos, corrections, suggestions, or straight-up criticism - please email us instead of commenting here.

  • Pingback: World Wide News Flash

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Theatrical Review: THE A-TEAM » GordonandtheWhale.com -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: There are no team orders – Hamilton | International News - Stay up to date with the latest World News, Finance & Business, Green News, Technology and Sports

  • drewtinnin

    A for the review! I think you could tell that this was going to be fun from the get go, so the surprise that it does justice to the series seems like hyberbole to me a bit…might go check it out this weekend if I can convince some cute nyc gal to pay!

  • stonycampbell

    I had misgivings about the prospects of this film until I discovered Liam Neeson would be protraying 'Hannibal'. He will probably be the perfect adhesive needed to pull off this project. Everyone who watched the glorious series as kids (I was 11) revered the show, even though no one ever died and despite being armed to the teeth with hard-core military hardware – none of them could hit the broad side of a barn. I'm looking forward to seeing how the writers will manage BA's fears and idiosyncracies. I have no problem paying $15 or whatever movies cost these days.

  • http://twitter.com/joatyo Jonathan Davis

    I think BA's predicaments were one of my biggest concerns…since I feared the addition of Rampage Jackson would tempt Carnahan to turn the character into something different. In fact, at the beginning of the movie, I almost threw my drink down when BA just jumped in a plane with Murdock at the helm…but fortunately, this was just the beginning.

  • http://twitter.com/joatyo Jonathan Davis

    After the hatred I had for Carnahan's SMOKIN ACES, no amount of hyperbole could accurately represent just how surprised I was that this film did ANY justice to the original at all.

    I'm just glad that everything I hated about SMOKIN ACES was fixed/toned-down for this film.

  • http://twitter.com/joatyo Jonathan Davis

    I think BA's predicaments were one of my biggest concerns…since I feared the addition of Rampage Jackson would tempt Carnahan to turn the character into something different. In fact, at the beginning of the movie, I almost threw my drink down when BA just jumped in a plane with Murdock at the helm…but fortunately, this was just the beginning.

  • http://twitter.com/joatyo Jonathan Davis

    After the hatred I had for Carnahan's SMOKIN ACES, no amount of hyperbole could accurately represent just how surprised I was that this film did ANY justice to the original at all.

    I'm just glad that everything I hated about SMOKIN ACES was fixed/toned-down for this film.

  • stonycampbell

    Thanks for replying Jonathan – haven't seen it yet, but I caught a cast interview on Cinemax, and an excerpt where the team was being tacked whilst parachuting in a tank, they were trying to “fly” the thing.

    I'm enjoying the reviews on your site, hope you guys keep it up, as Gary Goghill and I will doubtless never see eye-to-eye conerning cinema, classic and otherwise.

    Stony

    ________________________________

  • Recent Post