Cheap and cheesy 1980s TV show The A-Team gets an expensive retread with a big-screen blockbuster version – but will the new movie fire up cinemagoers’ fond memories of the original or trample all over them?
Having never seen the TV series, I have no memories of the team’s small-screen exploits, fond or otherwise, for the film to revive or ruin. I suspect, though, that despite the movie’s vastly inflated budget (rumoured at $110million), the show’s fans won’t feel they’re getting more bangs for the studio’s bucks.
Sure, there are explosions. Lots of them. But the action is so choppy and so hectically edited that you rarely know what the hell is going on.
That the same goes for the plot almost goes without saying.
As with other cinematic reboots of other much-loved franchises, the film is an origins story – you know, like Batman Begins or Casino Royale (the comparison stops there, I’m afraid).
Director Joe Carnahan and his co-screenwriters show us how the film’s titular bad-ass heroes become rogue fighters, but they take an age to do so. The TV show’s opening credits managed the same feat in around 20 seconds.
Once more, the A-Team are former US Special Forces soldiers (veterans of Iraq now, rather than Vietnam) who get set up for a crime they didn’t commit. Again, cigar-chomping Hannibal Smith is the group’s leader, with Liam Neeson stepping into George Peppard’s shoes.
And again, his cohorts are smooth-talking con-artist Face (Bradley Cooper from The Hangover replacing Dirk Benedict); crazy pilot Murdoch (Sharlto Copley getting a Hollywood payday after his star turn in District 9 and taking the role originally played by Dwight Schultz); and Mohawk-sporting BA Baracus, the team’s brawny driver – the character created for the unforgettable Mr T and now incarnated by ultimate fighting champion turned actor Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
The film sees them striving to clear their names of the charge of stealing a set of US currency engraving plates from Baghdad (‘From Baghdad?!’ You ask. Answer: the plates’ presence there dates back to the Shah’s time. ‘?!!?’). As the bullets and catchphrases fly, they are meanwhile trying to keep a step ahead of a bewildering array of opponents including Jessica Biel’s implausibly hot army captain and Patrick Wilson’s shady CIA agent.
They don’t get to be soldiers of fortune – famously, the occupation of TV’s A-Team. For that you’ll have to wait for a sequel. But don’t hold your breath.
On general release from 28th July.
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The A-Team aren’t the only old-school action heroes who’ll be throwing their weight around this summer. Check out our competition to win tickets to the UK premiere of The Expendables.