In this latest example of Hollywood living large off of small materials, The A-Team upgrades the vintage TV series to the big screen. Here, the filmmakers have ushered the saga of renegade peacekeeper troublemakers (and wisecrack-makers), kitsch fit for America’s living room, into the realm of the summertime multiplex. We’ve seen the transformation, this cultural elevation process, many times in recent years, including the recent feat of turning a 90-second SNL skit (MacGruber) into a full-blown feature.
In this case, the much ado factor has to do with ramping up the special effects in the old C & C (i.e., chase and carnage) and expanding a plot to feature-length form. As might be expected, the dialogue and narrative elements pale by comparison to the action-packing, and the end result is a cheesy, breezy summer flick, by turns flip, visceral, and soporific.
In the stage-setting prologue of the film version, we see the coming-together of this motley crew, around a dastardly scenario involving corrupt Mexican cops “somewhere in Mexico.” The team is linked by association with the elite badass legacy of the Army Special Forces, boasting “Rangers” pride tattoos on their upper arms. Updating to a relevant playing and battle field, the story switches time frame and locale and moves our foes of officialdom to Iraq, where corrupt CIA agents and Blackwater-like thugs thicken the plot and sully the waters of morality. Clearly, the A-Team is needed here.
In this bunch, “motley” is the word: Liam Neeson is the de facto chief with the cooler head, while stubbly pretty boy Bradley Cooper plays the suave and breezy “ladies’ man”—who may or may not win his old girlfriend (Jessica Biel) back. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson plays a burly guy, not to be trifled with, but who complicates matters after he has gone Gandhi, and wild man Sharlto Copley is, to borrow a phrase from the film, “beyond nuts.”
No doubt, if the movie gets a halfway decent box-office score, this won’t be the last time we’ll have the A-Team to kick around the multiplex scene. There are worse movie-world fates, but it’s hard to get more than mildly excited by a potential A-Team franchise.