Well, since I’m currently watching the second series of “The A-Team” on DVD, I was quite surprised to notice that they were showing the 2010 film adaptation on TV tonight (well, a few days ago, I usually tend to be several days ahead of what I post on here).
So, knowing a sychronicity when I see one, I decided to watch it – since I’d originally planned to see it at the cinema three years ago but I was too busy at the time. Anyway, it’s a film which is definitely worth watching, even if you haven’t seen the 1980s TV show.
“The A-Team” follows a team of four US Army rangers (John “Hannibal” Smith, Templeton “Faceman” Peck, B. A. Baracus and H. M. “Howling Mad” Murdock) who are serving in Iraq, following a series of very successful covert missions (the intro to the film shows one of their missions in Mexico and it is epic). Anyway, some of Saddam Hussein’s supporters have got hold of the printing plates which are needed to produce US Dollars. The army wants to hire a team of what are presumably private security contractors (working for a group called “Black Forest”) to get the plates back.
However, after some discussion and help from a CIA operative called Lynch, Hannibal’s superior officer (Morrison) gives them permission to recover the plates before the private contractors do. As such, they concoct an incredibly clever, daring and characteristically over-the-top plan to recover the plates and a shipping crate of counterfeit money. This goes well, but when they return to the base, there is a series of explosions which kill Morrison and destroy the counterfeit money. The plates also mysteriously go missing to.
As there is no longer any proof that the A-Team had orders to recover the plates, they are all sentenced to ten years in prison. Naturally, it isn’t long before they start hatching a plan to break out of prison, clear their names and find whoever has stolen the printing plates……
One of the first things I will say about this film is that there are obviously different actors playing the main characters (Liam Neeson, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley and Bradley Cooper) and, if you’ve watched the TV series, this can be slightly disconcerting in the early parts of the film. During the first five minutes, I thought that I was watching a strange parallel universe version of the A-Team.
But I quickly got used to the actors being slightly different, since they portray their respective characters very well and, dare I say it, give them more depth than they had in the TV show ( B.A. Baracus especially). Plus, there’s a brief cameo by Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz after the credits too.
Another thing I will say about this film is that the plot of it is a lot more complex than an average episode of the TV show. It’s anything but formulaic and some parts of the film will catch you by surprise. This works really well and, despite all of the over-the-top stunts (which frequently bend the laws of physics), it lends the story a certain measure of realism.
Whilst “The A-Team” retains the sense of humour and ingenuity which made the TV series so great, it’s a lot grittier and slightly darker in tone than the TV series was. All this basically means is that, when it comes to combat, they act like ordinary action/thriller movie protagonists rather than people who intentionally shoot to miss all the time (but, at the same time, they have a much lower body count than, say, James Bond). Whilst some fans of the TV series might not like this, they’ve basically just brought the series up to date and made the characters a bit more realistic. And, although I’m sometimes wary about this kind of thing, they’ve done it surprisingly well.
Visually, this film is pretty spectacular and there are plenty of fairly dramatic high-budget special effects (which would be unthinkable for the original TV series). But there’s a fairly strong story to back them up and, although they’re obviously over-the-top, they’re innovative and just generally badass enough (eg: a scene involving a tank and two military drones) to really add something to the film.
Despite all these changes, “The A-Team” still remains true to the spirit of it’s source material and there are tons of small references to the original show too. If you’re a fan of the show, then this film is certainly worth watching. If you’ve never seen the show, but you like action/thriller films with interesting characters and a sense of humour, then it’s also worth watching this film. Although, looking on the internet, there apparently isn’t going to be a sequel 😦
If I had to give “The A-Team” a rating out of five, then it would probably get four and a half at the least.