If my memory serves me correctly the year of 2010 ended up becoming the year of the Action Team Flicks. Arriving first was the comic book film adaptation, The Losers, which didn’t do so well. Coming out last was the Stallone testosterone action vehicle, The Expendables, which did much better though it lacked somewhat in the grindhouse it was promising. Smack dab in the middle of these two was the film adaptation of the classic 80’s action tv series of the same name, The A-Team, which in the end I thought was the best of the three Action Team Flicks of 2010.
The A-Team was a film project that once had Mel Gibson attached to it right up to Bruce Willis, but delays upon delays pared back what would’ve been a mega-budgeted action blockbuster into something in the bargain basement (for a summer film). It starred Liam Neeson in the iconic role of Col. John “Hannibal” Smith made famous in the 80’s by George Peppard. Surrounding him would be Bradley Cooper as Templeton “Face” Peck, Sharlto Copley as H.M. “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock and veteran MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. Baracus. Holding court over this A-Team was filmmaker Joe Carnahan working with a script he, Skip Woods and Brian Bloom (who also had a role as the amoral, sociopathic mercenary Pike).
The film took what was great and fun about the original tv series and gives it a 21st-century upgrade. To say that the film’s plot was secondary to watching the cast having fun on the screen would be an understatement. The story dealt with Smith and his team being accused of a crime they didn’t commit and must now escape from a military prison to find out who set them up and clear their name. It’s straight out of the tv series’ basic premise which managed to last a full on four seasons. Fortunately, Carnahan and his writers only had to make this premise last just a little over two hours. While some may think that two hours would be too long for this film it actually moved quite fast for something that went beyond the two hour mark.
Right from the beginning the cast looked to have been having the time of their lives. Neeson was Hannibal through and through while the other actors making up the rest of the team managed to imbue these well-known characters with their own brand of craziness, absurdity and panache. Just like the other two Action Team flicks of 2010 this film also had it’s share of scene-chewing villains in the form of Patrick Wilson as a duplicitous CIA agent and Brian Bloom as the sociopathic leader of a private military company at odds with Smith and his team. It’s these two groups who end up trying to outguess and outmanuever each other to get that final upper hand. Each encounter between these two groups just got more ridiculous with each passing event.
If one ever wondered if one could fly a tank while it was in freefall then this film answers that question. The climactic showdown at the LA shipyard at night has some of the most over-the-top action of the last couple years that wasn’t a scifi-actioner. Laws of physics doesn’t apply in The A-Team and the film revels in that notion as if telling the audience to either get onboard and enjoy the ride or get off and go on the Toad ride instead.
It’s a shame that The A-Team didn’t do as well in the box-office as some would’ve hoped because the film does set things up for further adventures for Neeson and his crew. What Carnahan ended up making won’t be breaking down the doors to the awards committee, but he did deliver on paying homage to the original tv series while adding his own brand of crazy to a film that had just the right amount of fun, ludicrous action to make it the best of 2010’s Action Team Flicks.