When we think of blockbuster movies adapted from classic 80’s TV shows, which examples spring to mind? Well most likely Starsky & Hutch and Miami Vice, released and subsequently tanking in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Needless to say, we were naturally sceptical about a silver screen re-mastering of the A-Team, a show that was far more popular and infinitely more ridiculous than its cop show counterparts. But through sheer spectacle and pant-wetting action, the plan most certainly came together this summer.
Smoking Aces and Narc director, Joe Carnahan is certainly no stranger to riotous over the top action, and it definitely took a no-holds-barred approach at the helm to get this movie off the ground; more than get it off the ground, Carnahan stuck dynamite to it and blew it into the stratosphere. The movie combines that vital level of silliness and self-mockery to compliment the eye-bulging amount of action that would otherwise be less enjoyable to watch. Sure, it’s fun to watch four men fly a parachuting tank, shooting the cannon over rural Germany under gunfire by air force fighters, but what makes it memorable are the groans and head-slaps of on-looking officers as Murdock tries to explain to BA Baracus that they aren’t on a plane anymore because it exploded in mid air after they knocked him out. Moments like these are a dime-a-dozen in this movie, but even mixing up their fake passports at airport security becomes as suspenseful as it is hilarious. But this balance couldn’t be maintained without the actors who make-up the A-team, and they more or less scream mix and match backgrounds. Between Liam Neeson playing Hannibal Smith and Bradley Cooper as Face – the former being more at home in serious leading roles and the latter being more of a comedic man-child – there’s already a mentor-protégée dynamic that makes the group a lot more than two-dimensional caricatures of their 80’s incarnations. The role of BA Baracus (which admittedly sounds like the coolest humanities degree ever) was always a point for concern, what with Mr T’s immense amount of hapless publicity wearing the character a little thin. Luckily, relative unknown Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson evolves the character just enough to make it his own without losing the classic appeal of Baracus’ no fool-pitying antics. Finally we have the inspired casting of District 9’s Sharlto Copley as Murdock, an actor who already looks fairly insane and can pull off a Texan accent just as effectively as his native South African.
As 80’s TV adaptations go, The A-team has without a doubt been the most successful in terms of its popularity, treatment and modernisation of what made the show great. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, you’ll most definitely be a fan of the movie.