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A Plan Comes Together

June 25, 2010 10:13 IST

Elvis D Silva reviews The A-Team.

I remember The A-Team as this cool TV show where the main characters built cool gadgets, argued with each other and then fought off the bad guys.

My memories of that and other shows like it are also memories of weird VHS colours, disjointed episode structures and impromptu ends (because the tape ran out).

I suppose a lot of us watched these shows like this. Some relative returning from the US or the 'Gulf' had taped a few episodes of whatever shows were running a couple of weeks before they returned and the whole family gathered to watch this imported entertainment.

So I don't have an abiding love for the show and I didn't have strong feelings about how the movie would be before I settled in to watch it. Also, I am forcing myself to treat each movie I watch as a piece of individual entertainment. Even if it is a sequel or a reboot or something from a franchise. Perhaps the knowledge that this movie had got bad reviews elsewhere upon release had also lowered my expectations of it.

Whatever the reason, I was thoroughly engrossed within the first thirty seconds. I suppose the plan was to introduce each of the members of The A-Team in a cool and dramatic way but the only character that gets a properly studly introduction is Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith (Liam Neeson).

It is cool, it is stylized and it sets the tone for the movie. The rest of the characters don't fare as well but nevertheless it was nice getting reacquainted with Lt Templeton 'Faceman' Peck (Bradley Cooper), B A Baracus (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) and Murdock (Sharlto Copley).

In the television series these characters were Vietnam War-vets and this time around they have served in Iraq. When things go wrong after a mission, the A-Team is disbanded, its members dishonourably discharged and sent to separate maximum security prisons.

Another casualty of the whole exercise is Charisa Sosa (Jessica Biel) a soldier who was directed to keep an eye on them. Ms Sosa also has past romantic history with Faceman so she is not their biggest fan.

Needless to say, the guys don't plan on remaining imprisoned for the duration of their term. When they get out, their plan is simple -- find the people actually responsible for framing them, find the stolen property and have themselves reinstated with clean records.

The director at the helm of this big screen adaptation is Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces) and those familiar with his work will know that the man knows how to stage an action sequence. This movie is no different.

From surfing down the sides of buildings to doing insane things with helicopters and other flying machines, this movie's lead characters pull off some pretty ambitious maneuvers. And even in these media-saturated times there are moments of genuine inventiveness during this movie.

The cast is middling to good with Sharlto Copley being the pick of the pack. He was an inspired choice for the nutty character of Murdock and the actor is pitch-perfect. Liam Neeson steps into George Peppard's shoes very well and my only complaint is with the haircut the filmmakers saddled him with. Jessica Biel is always easy on the eyes but it wouldn't hurt for her to eat a cheeseburger now and then because the gal has crossed the line from 'fit' into 'too thin'.

Beloved childhood memories have a way of being corrupted, especially if those memories were of movies or television shows you had enjoyed watching when they came out the first time. Hollywood has a way of 'updating' a classic in a manner guaranteed to destroy the essence of whatever made the original popular in the first place. So when a piece of entertainment comes along that does not totally suck, we are grateful.

So yes, The A-Team is big dumb fun and though I would have liked a little more coherence in the action sequences, overall the movie just works. It is raucous, it looks like the characters are having fun and very rarely is there a moment during which you are tempted to consult your wristwatch. In this day and age, that makes this movie an instant classic.

If you've been craving a good time at the movies watching an action adventure, The A-Team is a good bet for you this weekend.

Rediff Rating:

Elvis D Silva in Mumbai