THE A TEAM
US, 2010, 117 minutes, Colour.
Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biehl, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson, Gerald Mc Raney, Henry Czerny.
Directed by Joe Carnahan.
Blast, boom, bang. Then bang, bang, blast, boom. Not the most subtle of actioners.
Based on the 1980s television series, this is an update in terms of time (war in Iraq) and in weaponry and technology. Hence, the bigger blasts, booms and bangs.
This time we have, of all people, Liam Neeson as the ageing expert and leader of the special squad who seem to be able to achieve any secret mission (unless they are betrayed) and one wonders why they haven’t found Osama Bin Laden or were not called in to cap the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and effect it instantly. Here we see their prowess during the opening sequences in escaping capture and death from several dastardly situations. This is meant as a bit of background to the origins of the team and their working undercover. They later receive a mission to retrieve some plates for minting US notes (which Saddam Hussein had purloined) but it goes awry and they are arrested and imprisoned. But, out they get and go to remedy the situation and unmask the traitor (whom they and we were not expecting). The other members are ‘Faceman’ Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson) and the seemingly insane daredevil, Murdock (Sharlto Copley who was the put-upon official in District 9).
Complications in their lives and mission include Peck’s former girlfriend and now suspicious military officer (Jessica Biehl, who actually is given a lot more to do than might be expected in this macho macho outing) and CIA smoothie, Lynch (Patrick Wilson). Veteran Gerald Mc Raney is a commanding officer.
Somebody remarked with the two films’ simultaneous releases that what Sex and the City is to female audiences, The A- Team is to male audiences. So, there we are – or not!
1. Expectations, from the television series? Macho action?
2. The television series, the original stars, television icons? The new cast, the old identities? The action styles of the past? 21st century action styles?
3. The update, the background of Iraq, the 21st century? Plots? The US military, the CIA? Greed and dishonesty, clandestine operations, cover-ups?
4. The introduction to the team, establishing and re-establishing the characters? Hannibal Smith, the torture, the interrogation, Mexico, the rescue and escape? Face Man and his style, happy-go-lucky, the rescue? B.A. Baracus, driving the jeep, the pursuit, the introductions? Smith? Murdoch, mad, daredevil? The bonds between them, establishing the team?
5. The personalities, Smith as the tough leader, Face Man and his bravado and women, Baracus and his Mohawk style? Murdoch, flights, helicopters, explosives?
6. Time passing, the situation in Iraq? The transfer of the plates from the mint? The background of Saddam Hussein? Lynch, approaching the group, hiring them? Pyke and the rival group, his personality? General Morrison, friendship with Smith? Sosa and her relationship with Face Man, the break? Her suspicions? Orders?
7. The mission, the double-dealings, the explosives, the loss of the plates?
8. The arrest of the team, the court-martial, their internment in prisons, the different institutions, Murdoch and insanity? The glimpses of them?
9. Lynch, his background, the CIA, his associates and assistants? Retrying? Collusion?
10. Engineering the escapes from the prisons, the action sequences, techniques, reassembling the team?
11. Obtaining the intelligence, going to Europe? The plans, the locations? Face Man and his preparation of a plan?
12. The betrayal by Lynch, the pretence? Pyke and his involvement? Sosa and her involvement?
13. Lynch, Pyke, relentless?
14. The boat, the discovery of General Morrison’s deceit, his death? The explosions? The timing of the arrival of the plates? Lynch and his team? Murdoch and his putting on the helmet, pretending to be the dead general? The risks? The tapes, Lynch caught on the tapes confessing?
15. Sosa, the phone calls, her participation in the plan? Her superior, Mc Cready? His wariness? The finale, the door going up – and Lynch being caught?
16. The CIA taking Lynch, and another Lynch appearing to take his place?
17. The achievement, clarifying their reputations, their good name – and readiness for any sequel?