When I was a teenager, one weeknight was spoken for from 1983 through 1985. Tuesdays were exclusively devoted to NBC's 'The A-Team, 'followed by homework. I almost never missed an episode of the NBC hour-long action series about four disgraced military men who devoted their lives to helping the oppressed. So if you had told me then, "Hey, just wait 25 years or so and you'll see your favorite show on the big screen!" ... well, teenage delirium would be an understatement.
Now that the low-budget TV series has crossed the great divide into film land as a big summer release, I can only wish I was still young enough to enjoy it.
'The A-Team 'movie takes a limited concept, spreads it out over about two hours, and pads it with big explosions, a surprising amount of PG-13 violence, bad CG (computer-generated) effects, and words that you cannot say on network television.
The good news in all of this is that the movie offers the best cast in a TV-to-film franchise yet: Oscar nominee Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus, and Sharlto Copley ('District 9') as Murdock. Each bears more than a passing resemblance to his TV counterpart, and uses all the familiar character nuances and catchphrases, including "I pity the fool!" and "I love it when a plan comes together."
At least the actors appear to be having fun — or they sense a lucrative franchise in the making.
Should you grow weary of these four guys, the movie throws in some eye candy with the stunning Jessica Biel as Charisa Sosa, a tough-as-nails Army captain whose long locks would never survive military rules.
Also along for the ride as a triumvirate of baddies are Patrick Wilson as CIA man Lynch, Gerald McRaney as General Morrison, and Brian Bloom as Pike, leader of a nonmilitary Blackwater-style special-ops force.
'The A-Team''s plot is fairly one-dimensional, with the obligatory "betrayal" twists thrown in to keep the explosions and shoot-outs coming.
The film opens with the backstory of The A-Team as a then-collection of former Army Rangers-turned-mercenaries with specialized talents — Hannibal, planning and tactics; Face, operations and womanizing; B.A., mechanic and physical enforcer, and Murdock, expert flyer. Fate brings them together to stop a ruthless Mexican general.
Years later they are soldiers of fortune known as The A-Team, stationed in a U.S. military base in Iraq. Lynch pitches them a top-secret mission to recover missing $100 minting plates in Baghdad. The A-Team goes in and retrieves the plates, only to discover it was all a set-up to get rid of them. Sosa and her team swoop in to arrest them, and The team is broken up and sent to military prisons. Lynch helps Hannibal and Co. escape, and they begin to plot their revenge and clear their name, all along chased by Sosa, who aims to return the military fugitives to prison.
Bloom, Skip Woods, and director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) are credited with the script. Certainly they didn't intend The A-Team to be intellectual fare, but putting a semblance of thought into the film's story other than "insert action sequence/explosion/gun fight here" would have been welcome.
Their movie also relies too heavily on the standard action-film plot device that all villainous marksmen, no matter how well-trained they are, will fail to shoot their target when it's a good guy. And how is it that The A-Team can steal and destroy $100 million military weapons, vehicles, and aircraft with no accountability? As Mr. T would say, "I pity the fool[s]" who came up with this.
Twenty-five years is a long wait for a movie. But when it comes to The A-Team, it wasn't long enough.
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