When the Hollywood Creative Machine is running on fumes (which, let’s be honest, is always), the ’80s remake is always a good failsafe option. Audiences are sure to come, as there’s a strong nostalgia factor for those who loved the material in its original incarnation. But the question remains — can the carefree pleasure of iconic ’80s entertainment be replicated in this post-9/11 world? The people behind 2006’s “Miami Vice” obviously didn’t think so, abandoning the original TV show’s fun and flair for grittiness and emotional intensity.
At Quality 16 and Rave
20th Century Fox
But thank the heavens that 2010’s “The A-Team” didn’t go the “Vice” route. The film, based on the TV show that ran from 1983 to 1987, features extravagant action, clever one-liners and a great cast that seems to be having an absolute blast — everything that made the show so beloved. And in the likely chance that you haven’t seen the source material, it’s still a solid time at the cinema.
First, a gold star must be given to whoever cast the fine gentlemen of “The A-Team.” Liam Neeson continues his butt-whooping streak from “Taken” — albeit playing a much less pissed-off character — in his role as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith, the wide-grinning, cigar-puffing leader of the Alpha Team. Bradley Cooper is perfectly cast as Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck, a wisecracking womanizer — essentially the same character Cooper played in “The Hangover,” except that Faceman will blow up your plane with a turret gun on a tank whilst the tank is parachuting through the troposphere.
Before continuing on to the rest of the stellar cast, please re-read the preceding sentence. If such a scene would make you cringe, DO NOT watch “The A-Team.” The film’s set pieces are all about the suspension of logic, and the best part is, the whole cast and crew are in on the joke. They’ve all embraced how stupidly excessive “The A-Team” is, and in order to enjoy it, the audience has to be willing to embrace it as well.
Now then. UFC fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson does a surprisingly strong job as B.A. Baracus, the character formerly played by Mr. T. Rampage pities fools like a pro and, just like Mr. T, shows vulnerabilities beneath his badass exterior. Yet in a film with so many impressive performances, the award for Most Consistent Scene Stealer goes to Sharlto Copley, as James “Howling Mad” Murdock, the team’s lunatic pilot. After his incredible breakthrough in “District 9,” Copley is now two for two in delivering eye-poppingly stupendous performances. The absolute beauty of all these actors is their uncanny ability to capture the personalities of and the camaraderie between the original characters without merely imitating them.
But a slap on the wrist is necessary for whoever cast Jessica Biel (“Valentine’s Day”), whose attempt to pull of the role of an army officer is more nonsensical than the parachuting tank sequence. Admittedly, it’s difficult to write a good role for a woman in such a testosterone-fest, but Biel just kills the flow of the movie whenever she’s on screen.
The only significant drawback of “The A-Team” is its lack of appeal to cinemagoers who prefer their films to have creative storytelling and to operate within the laws of physics. If it’s not clear by now, it’s unmitigated fun to watch Hannibal, Faceman, Murdock and B.A. interact, crack jokes, take down the bad guys and blow shit up. Even traditionally dull scenes, like montages, are punctuated with brilliantly hilarious non-sequitors to keep the audience chuckling throughout. To intentionally misquote Hannibal’s classic line — “I love it when a movie comes together.”