mon 17/06/2024

The A-Team | reviews, news & interviews

The A-Team

The A-Team

The B-movie, the C-list cast: welcome to remake hell

No comparison: Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson models Mr T's trademark mohawk

As played by the late George Peppard in the original A-Team TV series, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith was wont to say he loved it when a plan came together. Alas, whatever plan that might have justified this botched retread of the Eighties small-screen favourite soon gets lost amid a wearying welter of gunfire, pyrotechnics and not-so-special effects, all of which appear haphazardly hurled on screen with all the care an incontinent pigeon might deploy while despoiling parked cars.

One should probably expect no more from a mainstream Hollywood product, pitched as it invariably is to the fleeting attention span of easily diverted teenagers. It is unlikely, of course, that any of that much-prized demographic will have the slightest inkling of the roots from which Joe Carnahan’s movie sprang, making this a curiously pointless exercise in nostalgic resurrection.

Some background for younger readers: the real A-Team

There may be some of a certain vintage who will savour seeing Liam Neeson chomp Hannibal’s trademark cigar, Sharlto Copley goof off in the vein of Dwight Schultz’s “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock and mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson offer his approximation of Mr T’s now iconic “BA” Baracus, Mohawk and all. Yet it soon becomes clear these are mere shades of their predecessors – waxwork dummies with no option but to strike poses and attitudes (pictured below right) against an increasingly ludicrous backdrop where no act, however brutal or immoral, has the slightest consequence.

DF-07823rV2The sole exception to this is Templeton “Faceman” Peck, the only character from the original without a schtick, gimmick or familiar catchphrase. Released from the kind of baggage his cohorts must carry, Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) can at least bring some of his own natural charisma to bear on the second-hand material – an advantage that enables him to emerge with his pride and his reputation only marginally scathed.

As in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reprise, Carnahan opts to reintroduce his ensemble within a new time frame rather than pick up where his source left off. Thus we kick off with a hectic prologue that not only explains how Hannibal, Murdock, BA and Faceman – hardened veterans of the Iraq war here, rather than Vietnam – come to be acquainted, but also how they become fugitives from justice seeking to clear their sullied names.

uch an approach allows Carnahan to begin with a fresh new slate, but it comes at a high price. At no stage do we feel the new A-Team value, respect or even especially like each other, their joshing camaraderie and banter having little shared history and common experiences to draw on. Nor does one feel they function any better together than they would apart, a failing that automatically makes nonsensical their refusal to ever break ranks and go their separate ways.

DF-08703That the nominal plot involves the theft and recovery of a set of money plates seems rich in this context, Hannibal’s crew being just as much counterfeit as the items they are seeking. Then again, any McGuffin will do in a movie whose only aim is to lurch from one extravagant set piece to another and to place its heroes in as many different vehicles (choppers, vans, a tank plummeting earthwards) as possible in the vain hope their perpetual motion will disguise the lack of actual momentum.

For what it’s worth there is a token female presence in Captain Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel, pictured left, with friend), an old flame of Cooper’s who now seeks to arrest him. There is also a villain of sorts, a shadowy CIA spook played by Patrick Wilson with the same smirk Carnahan no doubt flashed when he picked up his pay cheque. Men-on-a-mission movies are all the rage in Hollywood right now, this one falling between comic-book adaptation The Losers and the all-star muscle of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. That the first two to reach us both conclude with a showdown at a container dock, however, rather suggests they were all looking over one another’s brawny shoulders.

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It soon becomes clear these are mere shades of their predecessors – waxwork dummies with no option but to strike poses and attitudes

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