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The A-Team (2010)

A film adaptation of the classic 80s television show.

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I Pity the Fool who doesn't like The A-Team!

  • Jun 14, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5

TV Show Adaptations have been the theatrical kiss of death for a long time now. Not because the idea of taking an old beloved television series and modernizing it in a feature film isn't a plausible idea, but because the studios almost always drop the ball. Most of the time, they play the revival for comic effect instead of nostalgic revival, like The Dukes of HazardStarsky and Hutch and Charlie's Angels. When they occasionally do take the update seriously, like Miami ViceThe Mod Squad and Swat, it turns out that no one really wanted one in the first place. Then you have just flat out cinematic abortions like The AvengersBewitchedMission Impossible and Wild Wild West. Classic-cartoons-turned-live-action-films like Fat AlbertScooby DooInspector GadgetJosie and the Pussycats and The Flintstones populate their own private level of Hell.

 

So when do the studios get it right? Not very often, I'm afraid. But in the case of The A-Team, a generation's favorite soldiers of fortune have escaped the land of fond childhood memories unscathed. Of course, if anybody could do it, it would have to be these guys. Hell, they escaped a federal prison using garbage bags and hair dryers. Take that, MacGyver.

 

From the opening scene, you know you are in good hands with this modern revision of America's favorite wrongfully imprisoned special forces soldiers turned vigilantes on the run. The film's (and main character's) introduction is stylistic, endearing, and undeniably cool. There is no attempt to mimic or mock the original show's style, which keeps it from falling into the realm of intentional camp, but it still manages to convey that childish joy and wonder that went along with watching the A-Team improvise their way through adventure after adventure. This is just as much an achievement of the actors as it is the filmmakers; much like J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot, the emphasis isn't on mimicking the original actors, but making the characters their own. This is especially an achievement for Quinton Jackson, who wound up with the task of filling Mr. T's combat boots as B.A. Baracus. The end result is that you don't feel like you are watching actors reprising old characters, but the characters themselves, and that's the hardest part of this kind of cultural adaptation. They even manage to squeeze the original theme-song in without making it feel campy. Now that's an achievement.

 

Size and scope are the most noticeable difference between the movie and the original TV show. Like any low-budget prime-time series, The A-Team filled most of its action sequences with air mortars, car flips, and stunt men pinwheeling through the air from fake explosions. Compare that to the film's budget of $110 Million, and suddenly you go from air mortars to exploding CGI tankers and high-speed chase sequences with helicopters and fighter drones. This kind of over-the-top spectacle threatens to overwhelm the film's modest origins at times (especially during the climactic ending), but the superb acting and sharp dialogue help anchor the film in its nostalgic roots. Combining nostalgia with modernization is hard, especially when dealing with a show as iconic as The A-Team. Let's face it, how many TV shows can you name from just hearing someone hum the first four notes of the theme song?

 

It also helps that the screenwriters know how to do a proper villain. A lot of action films these days (since the 90s, actually) make it a habit of presenting dark, foreboding bad guys who smirk maliciously and kill puppies every ten minutes just to remind everyone how evil they are. This is far from the case with The A-Team; Patrick Wilson and Brian Bloom are given dark characters with personalities that make them as entertaining and fun to watch as the heroes. They do just as much wisecracking as the good guys, and manage to keep plot-forwarding scenes from feeling like mere pauses between action sequences. They're so fun and colorful, you wouldn't mind seeing them team up in a spin-off show (maybe they could run a day-care center together and solve crimes at night?). The rapid-fire banter throughout the film elevates this feeling, and often the dialogue actually increases the tempo of an action sequence instead of slowing it down.

 

The real kick in the pants is that The A-Team hit the screens only a month or so after the abysmal MacGruber. Side-by-side, these are the perfect Goofus and Gallant of adapting 80s TV shows. On one hand, you have people unwilling to seriously tackle an iconic prime-time show, so the instead do a mock-parody-spoof and tank the whole thing. On the other hand, The A-Team is modernized, taken seriously enough to not mock itself self-consciously, and manages to make an entertaining action film that retains the charm and appeal of the original series. You see, that's how it's done.

 

The biggest complaint I probably have regarding the film is the lack of a Mr. T cameo. An after-credits sequence features Bradley Cooper and Shartlo Copley bumping into Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz (the original Face and Murdock), but Mr. T and George Peppard were conspicuously absent. Peppard's reluctance to appear is understandable, considering he'e been dead for fifteen years now. So what's Mr. T's excuse? Seems he doesn't approve of the show being remade into a violent, racier PG-13 action film. It is usually comforting to know that some things never change, but I don't know how comforting it is that Mr. T still conducts his personal and business life in the same cartoonish black-and-white moralistic grandstanding that predominated his act when he appointed himself Protector and Mentor of All Children in the 80s. I could understand if he simply didn't want anything to do with the movie, but then he has to throw out the rationalization that he was afraid that if made a cameo, the filmmakers would try to use his name to sell the film. The last time I checked, the only thing his image was being used to hawk was Snickers Bars and Video Games, which is a far leap from the moral Mr. T of the 80s that preached the importance of eating healthy and outdoor activities to children.

 

But that little bit of unpleasantness aside, The A-Team is a resounding success. Sure, some people might feel the need to nitpick some of the action sequences as unrealistic and far-fetched (This Summer, you will believe a man can fly a tank...), but those that do are missing the big picture. Remember the garbage bags and hair dryers? That's right. It isn't about the realism or probability, it's all about the plan. In this case, the plan truly came together, and (sorry, but I must) I love it when a plan comes together.

I Pity the Fool who doesn't like The A-Team!

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More The A-Team (2010) reviews
review by . January 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
2 ½ Stars: I Pity The Fools Who Made This Film Close But No
The 80’s TV show called “The A-Team” was a product of that generation. Sure, it was cheesy, sure it was campy at times and sure it often feels like a team of “MacGyvers” who can build things to get out of a situation, I also never saw them ‘kill’ in the TV series. Well, I am sure this was a long time coming, so now the TV series gets a ‘face-lift’. 2010’s “The A-Team” is meaner, louder and has a plot that seemed inspired by …
review by . January 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****     I'm not the biggest fan of "The A-Team" and I'm not the biggest fan of director Joe Carnahan; which probably accumulates to some sort of explanation to why I was never expecting the big-screen adaptation of everyone's favorite "dumb fun" action Television series to be anything amazing. And what do you know: it ends up being exactly as I expected. Carnahan's "The A-Team" is a noisy action flick; an explosion filled thrill-ride that's all guns and no muscle. …
review by . December 12, 2010
I didn't see that many good films in 2010. In fact, the only other two good ones that I saw besides this are Scott Pilgrim and Inception. I saw this with my oldest brother on his birthday, and I was one of three females in the theatre, and definitely the only one who looked like I was enjoying myself. I definitely was, because The A-Team was a really fun movie.      The purpose of all movies is not just to educate. Some are made to entertain, like the likes of this and Prince …
review by . June 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
For better and for worse
"The A-Team"(1983-1987) was one of televisions most popular shows  for its time  it told the story of  three  Vietnam soldiers; Col. John " Hannibal" Smith, Lt. Templeton  "Faceman" Peck,  Sergeant Bosco " B.A." Baracus  who during the  last days of  the  war are tasked by there commanding officer Col. Morrison  with robbing a bank in Hanoi They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base …
review by . February 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
JUST PLAIN FUN
      THE A TEAM      When this film was first announced I was really excited for it because one of my favorite Mixed Martial artists Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson would star in it. Of course you know I had tog o see it and own it when it was released on DVD and Blu Ray. So here we are and I am finally going to review it, something I should have done a while back. Still better late than never I always say, or is that some one else's saying, anyway.   …
Quick Tip by . February 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
The film is just straight up fun, nothing more nothing less, if you try to turn on the brain you may disappointed. Everything in this movie goes bang and everything is pure dumb fun. I knew this going in luckily so I had a great time watching it. Not to mention that mixed martial artist Quinton "Rampage" Jackson plays BA, love it.
review by . June 16, 2010
I'd like to pretend, being a child of the 80s, that I have great and fond memories of the TV series The A-Team. I'd like to, but, well, I can't because I don't. I dimly remember seeing a couple episodes at my uncle Scott's house, and I certainly remember the merchandising bonanza centered around it, but I don't really remember being all that into the show. Perhaps because when you get down to it, it's pretty forgettable.    Speaking of forgettable things, let's talk about the …
review by . June 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There is some semblance of a story in "The A-Team." I seem to recall the team members being framed for a crime they didn't commit, a plot to recapture counterfeit treasury plates, a lot of double crossing, Bradley Cooper trying to rekindle a relationship with Jessica Biel, and scene after scene of escaping and jumping and falling and exploding and running and flying, most of them aided by heavy computer graphics and a very unsteady camera. That's about it. Is this enough to sustain a nearly two …
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Dull, stupid, cliche and quite frankly boring on many levels Joe Carnahan's "The A-Team" is as convoluted as it is childish it ceases to amaze with its constant action and lack of direction leave little room for you to really enjoy or be entertained by this over stylized shoot'em up/ revenge film.
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
An excellent adaptation of the classic TV show that manages to modernize and update while retaining the charm of the original, from the man that brought us Smokin' Aces. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
About the reviewer
S. Michael Wilson ()
Ranked #213
I am the editor and coauthor of Monster Rallyand the author of Performed by Lugosi. I am also a co-host of the wildly popular film review podcast MovieSucktastic.      As a writer, … more
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Wiki

Give it up to the A-Team: they've always been good at demolishing things in big, big ways. Freed from the confines of the 1980s TV series, the 2010 blockbuster movie version allows the four members of the paramilitary squad to really amp up the mayhem to newly crazed heights. Liam Neeson plays team leader Hannibal Smith (inheriting the cigar-chomping from the show's George Peppard), and pro wrestler Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is "B.A." Baracus, the TV show's most iconic character (insert Mr. T "I pity the fool" joke here). As the vain Face, Bradley Cooper preens in convincing fashion, andDistrict 9out-of-nowhere star Sharlto Copley plays the unhinged pilot "Howlin' Mad" Murdock. These boys are on the trail of some money-counterfeiting plates, from Bagdad to Germany to places in between. It would be understating it to say that the plot is not of primary importance, although Patrick Wilson has some fun as a CIA official and Jessica Biel occasionally strikes poses as Face's ex-flame, now a military officer displeased with the A-Team's extra-legal shenanigans. The storytelling ...
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Details

Director: Joe Carnahan
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: June 11. 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom
Runtime: 118 minutes, extended cut: 134 minutes
Studio: Dune Entertainment
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