Summer Blockbuster Preview: The A-Team

A plan that may just be coming together, we take a look ahead at The A-Team movie…

What Is It?

A project long in gestation, the big screen adaptation of The A-Team has travelled quite a bumpy road to get this far. It was originally planned with Boyz N The Hood helmer John Singleton at the steering wheel, and at that stage it was reported that Ice Cube was in the running to play B.A. Baracus. But when Singleton departed in the autumn of 2008, it seemed that Fox’s summer slate for 2010 would be one picture shy.

However, like all good plans, it started coming together (we’ll stop doing that now) with the appointment of Joe Carnahan to direct, and he’s brought together an updating of the TV show with a budget they simply would have died for in the 80s. The core mechanic is still four former soldiers who are available to hire when the fit hits the shan, and naturally, they fly in the face of the authority types too.

From there, you can pretty much join the dots. There’s a really tough mission that the four are hired to tackle, there are some big stunts for them to breeze their way through, and there’s some tasty one liners likely to follow too. It’s also likely to be the first in a series of adventures for this particularly gestation of The A-Team.

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Who’s In It?

Before Captain America came along, the casting saga of most interest was who would fill the shoes of the iconic 80s A-Team. The smartest move was to recruit Liam Neeson as Hannibal, the role that George Peppard made famous. Joining him is The Hangover star Bradley Cooper as Face, District 9‘s Sharlto Copley as Murdock, with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson tackling arguably the most difficult part as B.A. Comparisons to Mr T’s performance will be a factor in the film’s reviews, we’d wager.

Behind the camera, as mentioned, is Joe Carnahan, and this too is a smart move. Carnahan helmed the terrific Narc and the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Smokin’ Aces (and was down for a Mission: Impossible movie at one point), and The A-Team is likely to be pitched somewhere between them both. Furthermore, the creators of the TV show, Stephen J Cannell and Jules Daly, are both also on board this big screen remake.

Should I Watch It?

Once upon a time we’d have said no. We can’t have been alone in having some fear over The A-Team movie, and in particular the casting of Rampage Jackson wasn’t filling that many people with optimism.

And yet it seems like a series of smart choices have turned The A-Team into a project to keep an eye on. The casting seems strong on the whole, and Carnahan is a fine director, and while we didn’t want to get our hopes up, these did all seem to be ingredients that could make something very interesting, indeed.

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Then the trailers came along. Rarely has a film in recent times turned around our expectations on the back of a couple of promos. However, the trailers that have thus far been released for The A-Team hint at a film that’s pitched just about right. We’re picking up plenty of love for the original series, and yet the decision to make the project less glossy and a lot more gritty also seems to be a good one.

Fundamentally, though, what seems to be working is the interaction between the main characters. The film doesn’t have the luxury of the TV series, and thus it can’t tuck some characters away knowing it can come back to them in a few weeks’ time. As such, it needs to put across The A-Team as a proper team, and the rapport between the characters we’ve seen thus far has been enough to put a firm smile on our faces.

And we’ll go further, too. We’d chalked The Expendables up as the purest action extravaganza of the forthcoming summer blockbuster season, but the more we see of The A-Team, it might have a rival coming through on the inside. At the very least, the films will make a double bill from action movie heaven.

Of course, not everyone has warmed to the tone that the film seems to be taking, and the trailers have as many detractors as fans. But considering just how overstylised something like Charlie’s Angels became on its trip to the big screen, it’s refreshing to see a big screen TV movie that’s seemingly more in keeping with the overall ethos of the source material.

Thus, for the time being, we’ve done the most logical thing: we’ve quit our jibber jabber. We’ll get our coat…

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US release date: June 11thUK release date: July 30th