All a movie needs is Liam Neeson doing something cool and I am absolutely sold from the word go. The fact that the A-Team’s got that and District 9’s Sharlto Copley mean that I will definitely be catching it when it opens this summer. But for anyone unconvinced that this won’t be a respectful remake rather than a tongue-in-cheek pseudo-homage, here’s an article from Brand X:
Fox’s $100-million adaptation of “The A-Team” (June 11) takes glee in rehashing certain touchstones of the cheese-tacular ’80s TV action-comedy series.
Where the original Alpha Unit was a quartet of disgraced Vietnam war vets turned soldiers of fortune, the new squad comprises covert operatives who ran missions during the most recent Iraq war and get hung out to dry for crimes they didn’t commit. They’re determined to clear their names from the moment they make their inevitable break out of maximum security prison.
According to the filmmaker, Joe Carnahan, it’s more in the spirit of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” reboot than, say, Ben Stiller’s comedy-arrested “Starsky & Hutch.” “I’m not interested in making the easy, breezy Cover Girl version of ‘The A-Team,’” Carnahan said. But, um, isn’t this a summer popcorn film full of sight gags and big explosions? “We streamlined and stripped it down. But we had to keep some staples,” the director clarified.
Although the project had been gestating with various filmmakers — most notably John Singleton — for almost a decade, Carnahan threw out all the previous scripts and redrafted the action to kick off during the impending American troop withdrawal from the Middle East.
“I thought they were too slavishly devoted to the TV show,” Carnahan said of past scripts. “While I like the TV show, I didn’t think it was any great shakes in terms of heavy drama.”
Former Ultimate Fighting Champion champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s portrayal of B.A., Mr. T’s character in the original, is a prime example. Gone are B.A.’s thick coil of gold necklaces and habit of exclaiming “I pity the fool!” In character on-set, however, a resplendently Mohawked Jackson sported temporary tattoos across his knuckles that read “P-I-T-Y” on one hand and “F-O-O-L” on the other.
Likewise, “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock, played by Sharlto Copley, has been updated for the new millennium. “What passed as crazy 25 years ago? It doesn’t hold up,” Carnahan said. “Nowadays, you have Steve-O on ‘Jackass’ strapping on a g-string made out of chicken parts and rappelling over an alligator pit. So you have to reevaluate things like ‘crazy.’”
Copley, who starred in last year’s Oscar-nominated “District 9,” also idolized the team while growing up in South Africa. Still, he held certain reservations about being part of the adaptation.
“At the beginning, I was a bit skeptical to do a movie of a TV show that could come out really dodgy,” Copley said. “But when I heard who they were casting, I thought, ‘This could be really fun!’”
Carnahan glanced out at the principal cast and again defended his remake of the TV classic. “We’re not making an hommage to ‘The A-Team,’” the director said. “We’re taking the base story of four guys wrongfully convicted of a crime, they’re an Alpha Unit, that’s it. That’s the point of departure.”