Sunday, December 23, 2007

Safeties On: A-Team Operating Ahead

Taking a break from our year-end arsenal, I was searching online for an image I've seen on the Philadelphia streets promoting the new Rambo to little avail. However, perhaps in consolation, the magic of Google did direct me to Niall Browne's report at Screenrant regarding the script for a movie version of The A-Team to be helmed by John Singleton. Based on a posting that has since been taken down from Moviehole, Browne provides the following brief synopsis and reaction:

Hannibal, Face and B.A are set-up by some villainous soldiers who stage a heist in a Baghdad museum. Face cuts a deal and is set free, while his two friends are sent to a military prison. However, while in prison Hannibal and B.A meet and befriend Murdock: a crazy Captain with a bipolar disorder. Following a prison break, they set out to get revenge and clear their names.

Now, let's get one thing straight, I'm no A-Team purist. I watched the show as a kid, and I've probably seen it four times in the last twenty years (yes, I'm that old), but this film sounds like it's just another example of stealing the name of a television show to help marketing the movie.

The comments to Browne's post were in a similar vein. Readers were appalled at the idea of Face betraying his friends, one speculated that Dirk Benedict's Face character will be re-sexed a la Starbuck in SciFi's Galactica re-imagining, and there was a bunch of jibber jabber pitying the fools responsible for this faithless travesty to the original (B.A. lingo lifted from memory-jogging Screenrant participant Jae Senn).

Now, as stated above the MovieHole script review has been taken down, so all I got is Browne's synopsis to guide my thinking. That said, man, these pre-emptive haters have no imagination. Or memory of the original apparently.

Need they be reminded of the show's opening narration:

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.
Wikipedia provides the definition of that crime, which fits my memory of the show:
During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end. They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base four days after the end of the war, they found their C.O. murdered by the Viet Cong and his headquarters burned to the ground. Therefore no proof existed that the A-Team were acting under orders, and they were sent to prison by a military court. They were sent to Fort Bragg, from which they escaped before they could actually stand trial.

Seems to me, setting the A-Team up to rob the International Museum of Iraq (which in real life apparently was looted by everyone else in Iraq except the American army) is an audience-accessible update for the "crime they didn't commit." It's unclear from Browne's synopsis if Hannibal and B.A. bust out with Murdoch to get revenge on Face or not. My hunch would be Face's "betrayal" is part of one of Hannibal's plans coming together (to Hannibal's love and cigar). They know they're screwed in the courts, so Face goes "turncoat" to lay the groundwork on the outside for his buddies' escape.

I don't think they'll 'Starbuck' Face, at least if they hold to the notion that the A-Team are special forces (women still can't fill that job in today's army). However, there could be another outside contact, and strong female character, if they reboot "Triple A" Amy, the journalist who helped them out in the series. Write her as an embed with them in Iraq to cement some bond between her and the team before she's needed.

Beyond this, I'm a little confused about all this news coming out in the midst of a writers strike. Also, who thinks the film will hold onto the bloodless gun, explosive and car demolition violence of the series? I'm pretty sure critics won't stand for special forces soldiers coming out of Iraq to deal nerf-like violence stateside, I'm not sure about audiences though.

An updated A-Team coming out of Iraq is interesting. The whole "reinvent the properties of the 80s" thing going on in Hollywood aside, the original A-Team has been seen as part of American culture's acceptance, however sophomoric, of Viet-Nam as part of America's cultural history. I don't know if the U.S. is ready for that with Iraq, witness the cancellation of Over There, the dismal box office of Redacted, Valley of Eljah, and a bunch of other non-documentary films, presumably for their "too soon-ness." Then again, ER and Las Vegas had successful plotlines involving characters in Iraq, but those were more broadly conceived shows addressing current events than a show focused in its conception on the current event. Somewhere between these successes and failures is the Quatar special forces camp in Transformers, but I'll be trying to wrap my typing around that one at some point in a later post.

Personally, if you want to see what I think will be one of the lasting Hollywood images addressing the Iraq War, you'll have to sit through the almost entirely otherwise disappointing Southland Tales for Justin Timberlake's beer soaked lip-syncing dance number to The Killer's "All These Thing's That I've Done."

Oh wait, looks like through liberal interpretation of intellectual property laws, one may find fair use access to the shot here:

(Whoops, Southland Tales reminds me that Dwayne Johnson, while still performing as "The Rock" starred in a remake of Walking Tall that made Johnson's character a returning war vet, instead of the original and real life basis's retired profesional wrestler, maybe to avoid confusion. I got a feeling that one tanked critically for reasons besides any relationship it had with the war).

1 comment:

Ant said...

It will be a travesy if they do the movie on the premise you've described! I hope they just leave it alone. Although it is interesting thinking about which actors would/could play the characters.