Besides for a few syndicated episodes I saw at a friend's place, a handful of others in translation, the episode on the DVD I found in a box of Orville Redenbacher's, and the entire Marvel Comics limited series, I'm not exactly familiar with the classic A-Team TV show. I know the premise, I know the characters, but I haven't seen enough of that action-filled program to tell just how accurate Hollywood's new big-screen adaptation of it is. That being said, I laughed a lot watching the TV show, and in the movie theatre, I grinned from start to finish.
Now, normally I'm very, VERY weary of Hollywood adaptations or, even worse, "reimaginings" or existing franchises. If you've read any of my other tongue-in-cheekly titled "Accurate Look at" reviews here on The Nail Gun, you might see why: they're half-assed cashgrabs that don't care about the source material and will deface whatever they want to make that money. The A-Team, however, is not like that. Unlike those other movies which are completely brainless, The A-Team is smart. It is well thought out, well-written, and is in on the joke. It is supposed to be over-the-top and characters even mention that it's completely ridiculous. It is carefully planned action with brains behind it, rather than the usual shootout/explosion/car chase/fight scene formula of action flicks, with awful writing, bad acting, too much CGI, and fake tits thrown in. The action is over-the-top on purpose for the sake of intense humour, rather than just plain excessive in order to drive up the CG bill. It's a light-hearted action comedy, really, and the humour and adrenaline does not stop.
The film starts with an explanation of how the team came together, and how B.A. got his fear of flying. A friend of mine told me that the opening scene itself was worth the price of admission. Had I left the theatre once that high-octane introduction was over, I would have got my money's worth. But instead, I stayed until the end and got more than I bargained for.
The A-Team was better than I expected and much better than it should have been. I love Liam Neeson, and his Hannibal combines the cool wisdom of Qui-Gon Jinn with the badassity of his character from Taken. Bradley Cooper is great as Face, the ladykiller disguise guy. I wasn't sure what to think about the casting choice for B.A. (they used some UFC fighter), but he was able to act, and he won me over in very little time. And of course, District 9's Sweetie Man returns with a vengeance and knocks 'em dead as Howlin' Mad Murdock. This guy had talent with a capital T and I'm looking forward to his other projects. In terms of story, the movie explains the team's origins and the events that lead up to their needing to run from the law. You know, the stuff the narrator mentions in the opening of the TV show. Yeah, that stuff. He basically summarizes the movie for you. Not that that's any excuse to miss this one.
The story itself is a rather convoluted scheme of secrets and mysteries which isn't exactly plausible, but neither are most of the action sequences, but it's all part of the fun. It's so ridiculous that anything can happen, so viewers aren't sure what to expect, despite the Team's careful planning of every mission. That's another thing that separates The A-Team from crappy action flicks - the Team fights not only with guns, fists, helicopters, and GMC vans. They use their heads and plan things out rather that rushing in with explosions and bad CG. It's a smart, genuinely funny action movie instead of a brainless action flick that ruins a timeless franchise, which is what it would have been in someone else's hands.
It's not all plausible, it's not all credible, it doesn't all make sense, but it is ridiculous on purpose. It's a fun, exciting and genuinely enjoyable comedic action film with brains and lots of love for the source material. There are even a few cameos by two of the original A-Team TV show actors. I laughed much more than I anticipated, and when I wasn't laughing, there was still a huge grin on my face. While I strongly doubt older A-Team fans (the ones who tuned into the show every week) will be quite as thrilled as I was, the movie delivers the action and characters to a new generation, while maintaining the fun of the classic program. It's well worth checking out. Just lighten up and get ready to laugh.
EDIT: Having just watched some oldschool A-Team, I have to say that the movie is truer to the show than I thought. Some elements of the TV series were translated beautifully to the screen, such as the Team's smart-talking, the building-stuff montages, and Murdock's Howling Madness.