The original 80’s A-Team TV show is one of those shows from my childhood that I look back on fondly, but whenever I sit down to watch an episode these days, I get really bored, really quick. But as boring as some of the plots were, the best part about the show was the great characters; Hannibal, Face, B.A. and Murdock who managed to make every show at least bearable. Joe Carnahan seemed to know this while making his theatrical adaptation of the show because he pulled the best elements of the TV show and left the 80’s cheese right where it belongs; in the 80’s. But rest assured that this is the fun, high-energy summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for.
This is an origins story of sorts as we open up with Hannibal and Face on a two-man mission in Mexico where Hannibal stumbles upon B.A. Barracus. This whole scene with Hannibal and B.A. was awkward and unnecessary. I hate to swipe a film so early on, but they would have been better picking up with the team as they found Murdock. But once the team comes together, we flash forward 8 years where the team embarks on a heist mission in Iraq. Of course, they were set up by a crooked CIA agent (Patrick Wilson) and after being sentenced for the crime they didn’t commit, they proceed to break out and clear their names. Think of this A-TEAM movie as a modernized, two-hour TV episode with bigger action and a better script.
The big question mark coming into the film was how each actor was going to be able to live up to their original counterpart. Of the four, I thought Sharlto Copley did the best as Murdock. He captured the essence well and I liked what he brought to the character. But all of the four did a fine job, even Rampage Jackson. However, the highlight of the film, performance wise, came from Patrick Wilson, who played a wonderfully sleazy and obnoxious villain. He was funny and threatening, all in the same voice. I really liked what they did with his character and having a decent bad guy added legitimacy to the film that I wasn’t expecting.
In the previews, you may think the action scenes look a little cheesy. Aside from the falling tank stunt (which was better in the film), I didn’t have a problem with any of the action sequences. The special effects at the end, with the falling containers, felt a little fake, but it was a grand stunt that was over the top anyway. The other scenes were fun and fit into the film nicely. We even had a couple of “here’s-the-plan” montages that permeated throughout the TV show.
When it comes to TV shows that get made into movies, the first question I ask myself is; would this have been a good film without the TV show name? In other words, would I have liked this if it hadn’t been called THE A-TEAM and I didn’t already know any of the characters? In this case, the answer is yes. Carnahan kept this light, fun and engaging on all levels. The cast did a great job, the script was fun and it had just the right amount of homage to the original show. Oh, and be sure to stick around after the credits.