The A-Team: 20 years later

As I sat alone at an early afternoon screening of The A-Team (2010) in a cinema in Manial, I went back in my memory to the first time I ever saw the iconic 80s show, which ran from 1983 to 1987.

The original A-Team was famous as a nonviolent, family-oriented series that integrated comedy and action sequences perfectly. Mr. T, sporting an unbearably cool mohawk, became one of my superheros as B.A. Baracus with his tough guy attitude, love for milk and fear of flying.

But the new movie, based on the series, takes a different angle: violence is the name of the game and blood the only rule. We see the notorious four characters as they meet each other in an explosive turn of events. Resourcefully smart Col. Hannibal Smith (played by Liam Nesson) is on his way to save handsome and witty Lt. Faceman Peck (The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper) from a Mexican arms dealer. He runs into the strong and scary B.A. Baracus (WWF fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and the three of them enlist the help of the mentally insane aircraft pilot Murdock (District 9’s Sharlto Copley).

Eight years and 80 successful missions pass by and the quartet, now known as the Alpha Team, who specialize in “ridiculously impossible missions,” are in Baghdad (which has become the favorite location for any action flick lately) trying to retrieve stolen US treasury plates used by Iraqi insurgents to manufacture counterfeit currency.

The mission, a successful one, goes sour when a revival team known as the Black Forest kills the commander-in-chief and steal the plates again, placing the A-Team in a Catch-22 dilemma.

Action ensues as the team escapes from impossibly secure prison cells to track down the Black Forest team and clear their reputation.

Although I’m not a big fan of over-the-top action scenes this film managed to pull them off perfectly. Director Joe Carnahan (known for his 2006 action flick Smokin’ Aces) keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as he interconnects the predictable yet enjoyable storyline with literally unbelievable but thrilling scenes. A huge plane, for example, carrying our beloved heroes, explodes in mid-air, but the foursome have time to jump into a tank carried on the plane and connect four parachutes to said tank, landing safely in a lake following a tank-vs-airplanes airborne battle. Too far-fetched perhaps?

Composer Alan Silvestri (famous for the fun-inspired soundtrack to 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the more emotion-laden music for 1994’s Forrest Gump) incorporated the original theme of the TV series when writing the score for this film, which could be appreciated by nostalgic fans like myself–but that was about the only thing inspired by the original series.

Actors from the original series Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud) and Dirk Benedict have both expressed their disappointment with the film. While Mr. T found that the film “emphasized sex and violence,” Benedict found it insulting that his cameo in the film is too short to be noticed.

Liam Nesson and Bradley Cooper both handle their roles well, delivering them in a fun and smart way. Sharlto Copley brings the laughs and puts himself on the map for directors seeking a good action sidekick. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, however, doesn’t manage to pull off the charms of Mr. T and devotes himself to work hard on the action scenes. He should ease down on the pretentious oneliners.

The A-Team is a new summer blockbuster with all the right elements of success. However, as B.A. Baracus would say, I “pity the fool” who goes to the film expecting more than just a casual action flick.

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