ⓘ The A-Team (film)
The A-Team is a 2010 American action thriller film based on the 1980s television series of the same name created by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell. Co-written and directed by Joe Carnahan, the film stars Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson and Brian Bloom. The film tells the story of "The A-Team", a Special Forces team imprisoned for a crime they did not commit, who escape and set out to clear their names. The film was produced by Stephen J. Cannell, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. The film was theatrically released on June 11, 2010 by 20th Century Fox.
The film had been in development since the mid-1990s having gone through a number of writers and story ideas and being put on hold a number of times. Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews from critics and was an average performer at the box office making $177 million on a $110 million budget.
John "Hannibal" Smith is held captive in Mexico by two Federal Police officers working for renegade General Javier Tuco and Angle Eyes while in search of stolen gold from the confederate army. Hannibal escapes and sets out to rescue Templeton "Face" Peck, who is held captive at Tucos ranch. Hannibal saves Face after enlisting fellow Ranger, B.A. Baracus, driving to the rescue in BAs modified GMC Vandura. Pursued by Tuco, they stop at a nearby Army Hospital to recruit the services of eccentric pilot Howling Mad Murdock. They flee in a medical helicopter, chased by Tuco, in a dogfight that leaves BA with a fear of flying. The battle ends when they lure Tucos helicopter into American airspace, where it is shot down by an F-22 Raptor for trespassing.
Eight years later in Iraq, Hannibal is contacted by CIA Special Activities Division operative Lynch, who assigns them a black operation to recover U.S. Treasury plates and over $1 billion in cash slated to move out of Baghdad in an armored convoy. Hannibals commanding officer, General Morrison, consents to the operation but Faces former girlfriend, Defense Criminal Investigative Service Capt. Charissa Sosa, tries to discourage the team against getting the plates. The mission is successful and when the team returns to base, the money and Morrisons vehicle are destroyed by Brock Pike and his men from the private security firm Black Forest. Without Morrison the only proof that they were authorized to act, Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and BA are court-martialled, sentenced to ten years in separate prisons, and dishonorably discharged. Because the plates were her responsibility, Sosa also ended up court-martialled and is demoted to lieutenant.
Six months later, Lynch visits Hannibal in prison and tells him that Pike may be trying to sell the plates with the help of an Arab backer. Hannibal, who has been tracking Pike on his own, makes a deal with Lynch: full reinstatement and clean records for his team in return for the plates. Lynch agrees and Hannibal escapes, breaking out Face, BA, and Murdock in the process. The team hijacks a C-130, which is later shot down by Reaper UCAVs, but not before the team parachutes away in a tank stashed aboard and make it to the ground safely. The team moves to reclaim the plates and kidnap Pikes backer. It is revealed that the backer is actually General Morrison, who plotted with Lynch and Pike to steal the plates but teamed up with Pike to double-cross Lynch and fake his death. Lynch orders an airstrike to kill the team and Morrison, but the team manages to escape whilst Morrison is killed.
Hannibal arranges to meet Sosa on board a container ship at the Los Angeles Port, saying he will hand over Morrison and the plates. Face then calls Sosa on a drop phone he planted on her at the train station, and conspires a different plan with her. It all unfolds according to plan until Pike, who is now working with Lynch, blows up the container ship and chases Face to near death. BA having converted to Buddhism while in prison finally gives up his pacifist ways and kills Pike, saving Face. Hannibal leads Lynch into a container with Murdock, who, wearing a covered bullet-proof helmet, is portraying Morrison. Lynch shoots at Murdocks head, believing that he kills Morrison, and is later tricked into admitting that he stole the plates, and is subsequently arrested by Sosa.
The CIA agents led by a separate "Lynch" comes and claims custody of the original one. Despite their success and proving themselves innocent, the military still arrests the team for escaping from prison, also a crime; they and Sosa are angered by this, since it is only being done so Sosas boss does not have to fill out paperwork. Sosas boss trying to cover their tracks because of their screw up. Sosa is reinstated to captain, but she promises to do all she can to set the team free and kisses Face as everybody is led into a prison van. In the van, everyone starts saying that the system has burned them again, but Hannibal tells them that there is always a way out of any situation, and turns towards Face, who smiles and says "I dont want to steal your line, boss, but. I love it when a plan comes together" and opens his mouth and reveals a handcuff key, given to him by Sosa through the kiss. The final scene includes a narration spoken by Corey Burton similar to the shows opening narration.
- Liam Neeson as John "Hannibal" Smith
- Jon Hamm as Other Lynch uncredited
- Jessica Biel as Charissa Sosa
- Sharlto Copley as H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdock
- Bradley Cooper as Templeton "Face" Peck
- Patrick Wilson as Vance Burress / Agent Lynch
- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as Bosco "B. A." Baracus
- Terry Chen as Ravech
- Maury Sterling as Gammon
- C. Ernst Harth as Crematorium Attendant
- Brian Bloom as Brock Pike. Bloom was also a writer on the film.
- Henry Czerny as Director McCready
- Omari Hardwick as Chop Shop Jay
- Corey Burton as Narrator
- Gerald McRaney as General Morrison
In a post credits scene, original series actors Dirk Benedict Face and Dwight Schultz Murdock have cameos with their film equivalents Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley. Benedict plays Faces fellow tanning bed client, credited as "Pensacola Prisoner Milt," and Schultz plays the German neurologist who examines Murdock.
3.1. Production Locations and filming
The entire film was shot at various locations in Canada including Kamloops, Vancouver, Cache Creek and Ashcroft, British Columbia, with much of the studio works being done at Mammoth Studios. Other footage was included as well, such as aerial shots of the Cologne train station though erroneously referred to as Frankfurt Central Station in the movie as well as an aerial shot of the Frankfurt skyline. Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake is also featured in the German escape scene where a number of base buildings and landmarks are clearly visible, as is the false canopy painted under the CF-18s. The Royal Canadian Air Force along with some USMC squadrons are the only Hornet users to have the false canopy painted on the bottom. American markings were digitally added later. The Hawaii Mars Martin Mars water bomber, based at Sproat Lake, British Columbia, is also used in one scene of the movie to cross the Atlantic.
3.2. Production Development
The film had been in development since the mid-1990s, going through a number of writers and story ideas, and being put on hold a number of times. Producer Stephen J. Cannell hoped to update the setting, perhaps using the Gulf War as part of the backstory.John Singleton was initially assigned to direct, but in October 2008 he pulled out of the project. When Singleton was still attached to the project as director, Ice Cube was approached for the role of B.A. Baracus.
The production budget for the film was $110 million, but the cost came in at $100 million after tax credits.
3.3. Production Casting
In June 2009, Variety revealed that Liam Neeson was in negotiations with 20th Century Fox to star as Hannibal Smith, and Bradley Cooper announced to MTV News that he would be playing the role of Templeton Peck after he first denied the rumors saying that he was not involved and insisted that he had not seen any script.
On August 26, 2009, MMAjunkie.com reported that mixed martial arts fighter Quinton Jackson would play the role of B.A. Baracus in the upcoming film, but this was later denied by a representative for Jackson. In September 2009, The Vancouver Sun suggested that Jackson has been attached to the role and was postponing his fight at UFC 107 with Rashad Evans due to filming for The A-Team. Filming started in Vancouver in late 2009, and Jacksons involvement was then confirmed.
On September 15, 2009, Variety confirmed the casting of Neeson, Cooper and Jackson. They additionally reported that Sharlto Copley and Jessica Biel were in final negotiations to join the cast. Copley would be playing the role of H.M. Murdock and Biel would be playing the ex-lover of Face who is a disillusioned and ruthless Army officer in charge of pursuing the team. 20th Century Fox later confirmed that Copley and Biel were cast in the film.
On September 30, 2009, Liam Neeson and the rest of the cast were seen filming scenes in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, as shooting got under way. The first official pictures of Neeson, Cooper, Copley and Jackson in character were soon released, including one which features the iconic van in the background.
On October 30, 2009, Dwight Schultz confirmed that he had filmed a cameo scene for the movie. This news was followed on November 23, 2009, that Dirk Benedict would also make a cameo. Schultz and Benedict played Howling Mad Murdock and Templeton Peck respectively in the original series. Mr. T, the original BA Baracus, did not appear in the film. In an interview with Wendy Williams, he said he did not like doing a cameo appearance in a film based on the original series he once did.
In February 2010, it was announced a series of comics for the movie would be released beginning in March. Written by Carnahan and Chuck Dixon, the series, The A-Team: War Stories is a prequel to the film, featuring one-shots focusing each on Hannibal, Face, BA, and Murdock. A second series, The A-Team: Shotgun Wedding, is a tie-in to the film by showing an all-new adventure set after the quartet escaped. Film director Joe Carnahan and Tom Waltz collaborated to pen the series.
Jazwares released a line of action figures featuring the four main characters, plus the GMC Vandura.
An application for the iPhone was released as part of the marketing blitz for the film. The A-Team application is a side-scrolling, third person, action shooter game. Produced by RealNetworks the game includes voice-overs from B.A. Baracus.
The films first trailer was released January 8, 2010. The films second trailer was released April 1, 2010. The film premiered in Los Angeles on Thursday June 3, 2010, at Graumans Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Liam Neeson arrived in The A-Team custom Chevrolet G20 van; Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley rode in on a real U.S. Army tank. The film opened nationwide on June 11, 2010.
The film premiered in the United Kingdom on July 27, before going on general release the next day. The event was attended by the four team members along with Jessica Biel, and the A-Team van.
5.1. Release Home media
The film was released on December 14, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27 in Australia and on November 29, 2010 in the UK. An extended cut was also released, pushing the running time to 133 minutes. Two of the most noteworthy additions in the extended cut were the two cameo scenes of the original Face and Murdock, which were pushed back after the end credits in the original cut due to pacing.
6.1. Reception Critical response
The A-Team received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 48% based on 208 reviews with an average rating of 5.4/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "For better and for worse, Joe Carnahans big-screen version of The A-Team captures the superficial, noisy spirit of the TV series." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100 based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly says of the film: "Its trash so compacted it glows". Richard Corliss of Time magazine calls the film "the best in a mediocre line-up of summer-action flicks". He goes on to say the film lacks "a coherent plot and complex characterization", though he does note that these qualities "are irrelevant to the genre". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine calls the film, "big, loud, ludicrous and edited into visual incomprehension", but "pity the fool who lets that stand in the way of enjoying The A-Team ". In contrast, Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, who titled his piece "Pity the fool who sees The A-Team ", is among the most critical, calling the film "overlong, overblown and utterly forgettable." The Hollywood Reporter criticizes the films story, character development and logic, calling it "nearly writer-free", while the St. Petersburg Times was far more positive, calling the film "literally a blast" from start to finish, and praises it for "containing more thrills than the average shoot-em-up".
Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said The A-Team is an incomprehensible mess, criticizing the film for being as shallow as the television series, which he describes as "punishment" when drawn out to a two-hour-long film. Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger complains the film makers remembered little more from the television series than a Dirty Dozen gimmick and compares the film to the "awful" Smokin Aces by the same director.
6.2. Reception Comments by original cast
Dirk Benedict, who played Templeton "Faceman" Peck in the TV series, spoke of regretting his cameo, stating "Youll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because its a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, Oh yeah, the original cast are in it, but were not. It is three seconds. Its kind of insulting."
Mr. T, the original B. A. Baracus, was offered a cameo, but turned it down, feeling it would not be right for him to appear in the film if he did not play Barracus. In a 2010 interview with Script magazine director Joe Carnahan claimed that Mr. T, after viewing scenes from the film, thought the final product was "the greatest thing in the world". After the premiere of the film Mr. T allegedly stated that he had become disillusioned and felt the story emphasized sex and violence, and that it was unfaithful to the original series. An attorney for Mr. T later stated that the actor had not yet seen the film and could not comment on it.
Dwight Schultz, who played the TV series "Howling Mad" Murdock, issued a statement to his official fansite that the film "pays homage to the series while it eschews its essential working premise: a band of capable military brothers for hire determined to save underdog and usually poor civilians from scum. The team characters are sufficiently different and, with so many roles reversed from the original, one could say they are not really derivative, save for their names." He also noted that Sharlto Copleys Murdock "is faithful to the original, but at the same time is big screen twisted and right at home with the new team."
In the psychiatric hospital scene, Reginald Barclay, Schultzs character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, is credited during the opening title of a film, as is G.F. Starbuck, referencing Lieutenant Starbuck, Benedicts character from the original Battlestar Galactica.
6.3. Reception Box office
The film fell slightly short of expectations for its opening weekend, earning $26 million, as opposed to the initially predicted $30–35 million. The film opened behind The Karate Kid, which took in $56 million. The film opened in the UK/Ireland on July 28, 2010, and came at No. 3 in at the box office with a first weekend haul of $5.6 million. As of August 26, 2010, The A-Team had taken over $77.2 million at the U.S. box office, and $100 million internationally, for a worldwide total of over $177.2 million.
6.4. Reception Soundtrack
The soundtrack album of The A-Team was released on June 21, 2010, by Varese Sarabande. On December 1, 2009, it was announced that Alan Silvestri would compose the film score. Silvestri recorded his score with a 90-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox.Track listing
All music is composed by Alan Silvestri unless stated otherwise.
Songs used in the film are:
- "Reelin In the Years" written by Steely Dan
- "The Washington Post" by John Phillip Sousa
- "I Dont Want to Change Your Mind" by Wildlife
- "Ive Been Lonely for So Long" by Frederick Knight
- "Trio Para Enamorados Trio for Lovers" by Jorge Calandrelli
- "House of Pain" by The Game
- "The Little Drummer Boy" written by Harry Simeone, Katherine K. Davis and Henry Onorati
- "You Spin Me Round Like a Record" Sung onscreen by Sharlto Copley
- "My Girl Has Rosenmand" written by Johannes Brahms and performed by Peter Schreier and Konrad Ragossnig
- "I Ran 6 Miles" by Gary Sredzienski
- "A-Team Blastoff Suite" by Tom Morello
- "Anarchy in the U.K." by Sex Pistols
- "I Got Mine" by The Black Keys
- "Shut Up" by Trick Daddy
7. Canceled sequel
Neeson, Cooper, Copley and Jackson originally expressed interest in doing a sequel. Joe Carnahan has expressed interest in directing a sequel and said it will depend on DVD and Blu-ray sales and rentals. On March 10, 2011, Cooper stated that the film had not generated enough revenue for there to be a sequel. This was confirmed by Liam Neeson in a webchat. Neeson later commented in early 2012 that he understood why the film was not successful: "I watched it about two months ago and I found it a little confusing and I was in the thing. I just couldn’t figure out who was who and what’s been done to him and why, a little bit." Later in 2013 Carnahan said on his Twitter account "For the record guys and as much as I appreciate all the A-TEAM love. There will NOT be a sequel. It didnt make enough $$$ and thats that."