LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In these days when remakes of old movies and TV shows are the rage among Hollywood studio executives, there is one director who thinks it is idiotic to consider his new film a redo, “A-Team” helmsman Joe Carnahan.
Even though his movie is based on the 1980’s TV show of the same name about a group of Vietnam war veterans working as mercenaries, Carnahan insists his film is a completely reworked story tailored to modern-day audiences looking for big-budget Hollywood action.
“I keep reading we’re remaking ‘The A-Team,’” the director told reporters recently, “but how the hell do you remake a TV series that ran four years? It’s idiotic! You can re-engineer and re-imagine it, but it’s definitely not a remake.”
While the “A-Team” foursome on TV show, which ran from 1983 to 1987, blew up a lot of things and captured many bad guys, the show was perhaps better known for its campy storylines and the loud-mouthed, mohawk-wearing Mr. T, who played B.A. Baracus.
The “A-Team” movie is more action-packed and violent, which could be expected from Carnahan, whose previous work includes gritty films such as “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane,” “Narc,” “Smokin’ Aces” and sequel “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball.”
The premise of the film is relatively the same, four former U.S. Special Forces soldiers who are wrongly accused of a crime. But the modern times, place, story and cast help make the movie different, the filmmakers said.
The new “A-Team” has as its backdrop the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in which the forces are accused of a crime, then set out to clear their names and turn the tables on the real culprits.
Carnahan, who also co-wrote the screenplay, based the plot on tales of Saddam Hussein looting banks before the Iraq war began in 2003, then ramped up the action.
He said he had “no interest” in just transplanting the TV show to the big screen. “I thought that’d be a disaster because while everyone remembers ‘The A-Team,’ times have changed,” he said. “What worked 25 years ago won’t work today.”
The new “A-Team” is comprised of Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) playing Templeton “Face” Peck, Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) as H.M “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock, martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the Mr. T role, and Liam Neeson (“Taken”) as leader Hannibal Smith.
Aspects that are similar in the movie and TV show is a great sense of camaraderie that exists within the group, as well as much humor built into the script.
“That’s what I remember the most from the show,” said the director. “I wanted to keep the humor as much as possible, and make it very organic and not one-line gimmicky. I wanted you to feel that these guys genuinely have a great time together.”
The four actors said they worked well together and Copley even admitted to often sleeping in his trailer, rather than drive to the motel an hour away from the set.
Neeson, perhaps best known as a dramatic actor and not an action star, said that “A-Team” along with “Taken,” had given his career a “whole new lease of life.” And for Cooper, a star of last year’s hit comedy “The Hangover,” the new film represented a chance to do his first action flick.
All four said they watched the show as kids or young adults, and the only key person who hadn’t, perhaps fittingly given his stance the film is not a remake, was Carnahan.
“It wasn’t one of my favorites, although...I was a fan of the culture of the show,” he said. “Everyone knew who the A-Team was — and that always impressed me. But hopefully having that distance from the show helped me do a better job with the movie.”
Early reviews are mixed, at best, but as a general rule the audiences of mostly young men who turn out for action flicks like “The A-Team” don’t read criticism, which was noted in one write up from show business newspaper The Hollywood Reporter.
“Bottom Line: More like the D-minus Team,” wrote veteran critic Kirk Honeycutt, “but Joe Carnahan fans won’t mind.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Christine Kearney