Will The A-Team bring their A-game?

After Warner Bros??? risible big-screen remake of 80s TV hit The Dukes of Hazzard, I was cautiously optimistic when Fox had chosen to resurrect Saturday tea-time favourite, The A-Team.

With a theme-tune guaranteed to displace any annoying??song you might find stuck in your head, the series followed the exploits of an underground, ex-military team for hire, AWOL having escaped ???a maximum security prison for a crime they didn???t commit???.

The not so deep-structure of the TV episodes went something like this:

Small-time bad guys cause trouble in downtown LA, or plan an armed uprising in the desert regions of California, threatening to disturb the suburban peace. The A-Team arrive in a pimped, black van with a red stripe down the side, have a chat with the victims of said bad guys before disappearing into a surprisingly well-equipped barn for a rousing musical-montage of welding stuff together into some kind of super-weapon. ??

Bad guys always try to drive towards said weapon/armoured bus/potato gun (yes, really) which results in their vehicles having multiple rollovers before the drivers crawl out of the wreckage like they???ve just had a minor prang in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Bad guys are arrested and suburban householder thanks the A-Team for saving the valley. And scene. It???s basically a western, and they???re the outlaw posse who ride in like The Magnificant Seven.

The better part of the comedy was in the odd-couple relationship between street-talking, black muscleman Sgt Bosco ‘B.A.’ Baracus (played by wrestler, Mr T) and the maniacal, skinny white aviator, Capt ???Howling Mad??? Murdock (Dwight Schultz), who would regularly wind B.A. up, earning the ???fool??? moniker we have come to love. B.A.???s morbid fear of flight was regularly exploited for laughs as he was unwillingly anaesthetised on many occasions to enable the ???fools??? to get him on the plane.

Slick ladies man, Lt Templeton ???Faceman??? Peck (Dirk Benedict, also of the 70s Battlestar Galactica) lent a dapper cool to the team, while silver-haired leader, John ‘Hannibal’ Smith (the late George Peppard of Breakfast at Tiffany???s, The Blue Max) brought a bit of silver-screen authority to proceedings, eyes twinkling as the latest ruffians were dispatched to his catchphrase, ???I love it when a plan comes together???.

So what of the movie then?

From the two trailers that have been issued, it begins to look good. There???s a moody exposition as we see the court-martial proceedings that sentence ???Alpha-team??? for the ???crime they didn???t commit???, now during the Iraq war rather than Vietnam. So far, so current.

Then we are introduced to the new team. Hannibal is now played by a greyed-up Liam Neeson, Yup, I???ll go with that. Bradley Cooper, the buff stalwart of rom-coms (Valentine???s Day, He???s Just Not That Into You) moves into action to play the Faceman. Showing comedy under fire while being restrained in a bathrobe, he is the eyecandy for the ladies and possibly, some gents too.

A more vocally expressive B.A. is embodied by former Ultimate Fighting Championship holder, Quinton ???Rampage??? Jackson, bringing the required muscle and van-loving expertise to the mix. The most inspired piece of casting must be Sharlto Copley as Murdock, a character surely in the grip of the strangest form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Copley suddenly came to worldwide attention in last year???s District 9, effectively carrying that film on his shoulders. From what can be seen, he positively channels the Murdoch-mania that Schultz made his own in the original series.

There are though, a couple of shots where the silliness goes too far, even if they do “specialise in the ridiculous”. The team steal a transport plane and a tank that is inside, is used as an escape pod just before the plane is targeted and destroyed by an air-to-air missile. So while I???m willing my 8 year old self to accept that they will survive the impact of a parachuting tank hitting Earth, the unforgiveable happens. Faceman takes to the gun turret and in an orgy of CGI ejaculation, starts shooting pursuing planes in mid-air. No. You hear me director Joe Carnahan? No. The original was daft, but it knew it???s limits. If I want a computer game I???ll buy an Xbox.

It gets worse. In an abseiling-down-an-office-skyscraper-to-blow-out-the-window-and-parachute-someone-out-scene, the descending parachute is then hooked on the landing skid of Murdock???s helicopter, and flown away. Why can???t Hollywood directors keep their hands out of the tricks box? It ruins the movie.

So it remains to be seen whether the rest holds up. Let???s hope we don???t all get taken in like suckas, ???cause I ain???t putting up with no jibber jabber.

See the trailer at the official A-Team website


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