A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Now Showing: The A-Team (2010)

Ahhh... the 80s... that was when television, IMO, was at its height of creativity... a kind of raw joy pervaded the idiot box... a golden period when television was still largely untouched by the bleakness that has
cast a shadow over contemporary storytelling.

My husband tells me that he never watched the 80s television show, "The A-Team" -- a case of parental prerogative. Chalk it to my naivete, but I thought everyone watched "The A-Team". Growing up in the 80s, it seemed like everyone I knew watched it. It was the one show that every single member of my family sat to. My father hated sitcoms and my mother didn't care for scifi but we all sat down to watch The "A-Team".

As a rule, I am not a fan of the television to film "remakes". Apart from a few notable exceptions (Charlie's Angels, Star Trek, The Fugitive), most of them (excuse my French) have the stench of month old leftovers. It's obvious from the trailers that most of them are played solely for laughs and almost zero effort is put into constructing a half-decent story. As much as possible, I avoid them like the plague.
So when I heard that they were remaking "The A-Team"... I sighed and gave my usual rant about how Hollywood can't leave a good tv show alone and always manages to make a dog's breakfast of most things they touch. So I was pretty skeptical...
Until I saw the trailer.
And then I thought... this remake could be decent... good almost...
And... lo, and behold, I was right.

"The A-Team" was an utterly nutty piece of 80s television about 4 brilliant military misfits who were fugitives in a Robin Hood and his Merry Men sort of vein. There was always plenty of gunfire but nobody seemed to be killed and the leader (Hannibal Smith) of this particular band of outlaws was expected to come up with the most insane schemes week after week to elude the law and come to the aid of helpless victims of injustice. And at the end of each successful endeavour, Hannibal would oblige with his trademark smirk and declare for the nth time, "I love it when a plan comes together."
Realism was scarcely a feature of the show.

Unlike previous remakes the movie does the smart thing and captures the over-the-top zaniness of the original. It understands that the popularity of the original was rooted in a weekly dose of crazy schemes in highly improbable situations... and mostly because it was bucketloads of fun. In this reboot, the old magic is revived because the casting is right on the money. Liam Neeson was an interesting choice to play Col Hannibal Smith, a role made famous by the late George Peppard. While his cigar chomping colonel has a different feel from the earlier incarnation, it loses none of the appeal. Neeson oozes a certain air of authority/charisma, and I'm not that bothered by accent lapses.. Perhaps it's his physique but for me, he epitomizes the fearless leader that command the loyalty of those who would gladly follow him into battle.

Neeson aside, the other actors were unfamiliar to me but they managed to capture the spirit of the characters they portrayed. Sharlto Copley plays the mentally unstable pilot, Murdock, with whimsical humour. Bradley Cooper was terrific as "Face", confidence man and ladies man extraordinaire. Quinton Jackson, although not the strongest performer here, did a decent job with the role made famous by Mr T, B.A. Baracus.

I suppose I could nitpick about this plothole and that but really it would be pointless because this is The A-Team. This is not to say that there isn't a story of sorts because somewhere in between the mad stunts and chaotic gunplay, there lurks a good natured revenge narrative. The dialogue sparkles and there's lots to laugh at. Absurdity is the name of the game. It's rowdy, rambunctious and endearingly cheesy. Like Alice, I like to believe in six impossible things before breakfast and the A-Team throws out impossible things more quickly than a plane in combat.  As one character says in the film, "they are the best and they specialize in the ridiculous." That statement says it all really.

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