“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.”
Joe Carnahan was behind Smokin’ Aces and wrote the remake of Death Wish. Here, he’s remaking the 1980’s TV series that was created by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell.
The film begins by showing how the team was formed. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson, taking on George Peppard’s role) is captured by renegade General Javier Tuco, but he escapes and rescues Templeton “Face” Peck (Bradley Cooper, playing Dirk Benedict’s part). They then enlist B.A. Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton Jackson, taking over for Mr. T) and escape in a helicopter courtesy of the certifiably insane “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharto Copley, here for Dwight Schultz). The incident cements their friendship and puts a fear of flying into Airborne Ranger B.A.
After eight years of successful missions, CIA Special Activities Division operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson) assigns the team to recover U.S. Treasury plates and a million in cash from an armored Baghdad convoy. Hannibal’s CO General Morrison (Gerald McRaney!) grudgingly allows them to go on the mission while Faces ex-girlfriend Defense Criminal Investigative Service Capt. Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel) is against the mission.
The whole thing is a set-up, as the Black Forest private security troops blow up General Morrison, removing the team’s only alibi for conducting maneuvers in enemy territory. They’re all dishonorably discharged and sent to separate ten-year prison terms.
Of course, Hannibal has a plan. That means working with Lynch again and getting his team back together while Sosa — who was dropped down to Lieutenant as a result of their previous adventure — is in hot pursuit.
There’s plenty of twists, double-crosses, heavy machine gun fire, an escape in a flying tank and so much more here. Original cast members Benedict and Schultz show up as a fellow prisoner and a neurologist. I liked Benedict’s quick role, but he said, “You’ll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because it’s a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, the original cast are in it,’ but we’re not. It is three seconds. It’s kind of insulting.”
There is one cool part where the science fiction roles of both Benedict and Schultz are referenced in the movie at the psychiatric hospital, as you can see the names Reginald Barclay and G.F. Starbuck listed. Plus, the other actor’s name is Thomas Banacek, who is a nod to the George Peppard detective series.
The movie didn’t make enough for a sequel, but it’s not bad. It helps a lot if you’ve seen the original movie. It kind of lost me by the end, but the opening made me think this was going to be way better than it ended up being.