Saturday, June 12, 2010

In theatres: "The A-Team" (2010)

When The A-Team was launched as a mid-season replacement in 1983, it was derided as a live-action cartoon because with all the attendant car crashes & explosions, no one really got hurt. 4 years later, the series ended, its place in history secure.

Now, it's 2010, and, as with "Iron Man" 2 years ago, the origins of the team have been relocated. Instead of being in Vietnam, Hannibal, BA, Murdock, & Face were all in Iraq. However, instead of being a team from the start, the four of them come together in the course of the film's first act. Naturally, Murdock (Sharlto Copley, "District 9") had to be sprung from a mental hospital. BA (MMA star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) still has a fear of flying. Face (Bradley Cooper) is the charming con man, and Hannibal (Liam Neeson) the fearless leader. Instead of fighting garden variety gangsters and drug dealers, the A-Team is tasked to retrieve some stolen printing plates used for printing money. Naturally, the Team is framed when General Morrison (Gerald McRaney, better known for TV shows like Simon & Simon & Major Dad) is purportedly killed by a black ops team whose leader is dealing with the enemy.

In the series, the Team was pursued by Col. Lynch. Now, Lynch is the code name for a succession of CIA agents. That plot twist doesn't make much sense, but we're dealing more in cloak & dagger here instead of cops & robbers. Agent Clarissa Sosa (Jessica Biel, "Blade: Trinity") becomes Lt. Girard to the 4 Kimbles on the loose, with the added hook of being a past girlfriend of Face, and as you might expect in this era, the Team has to turn around and help her out when they discover "Lynch" is coming after her.

I left before the credits finished rolling, and I'm told via a message board I frequent that series co-stars Dwight Schultz & Dirk Benedict's cameos were moved to the post-credits sequence, as if that's any idea of things to come, unlike the "Iron Man" movies. Copley & Cooper fill their roles very well, as does Neeson, channeling the spirit of the late George Peppard. Jackson has remolded BA in his own image, and there's a sequence during the 2nd half of the film where BA, while in prison, has taken a vow against killing, a nod, you would think, to Mr. T, who is now a born again Christian.

Speaking of Mr. T, while not busy shilling World of Warcraft games, he's had his publicist deny published reports that had him decrying the film for its excessive violence. The final product didn't have too much more violence than the series itself, and certainly no sex. Instead, you have plenty of flirting between Face and Sosa. The door's been left open for a possible sequel, and I would expect that possibility to become a reality within a couple of years or so.

Grade: A-.

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