What Went Wrong: The A-Team
By Shalimar Sahota
January 3, 2013
This will contain the odd spoiler, so if you haven’t seen The A-Team, just bear in mind that it features a tank in midair.
“It was just this really traditional story,” said Alex Young, producer and then co-president of production at 20th Century Fox. “Nothing really original. It was exactly what you’d expect.” Talking about the previous scripts for The A-Team, the film had been in development for around ten years. “We’d tried to polish it but it wasn’t there yet.”
In October 2008, director John Singleton had left the project after Fox wanted to push the release back by a year. After this, writer Skip Woods wrote a draft of the script, which Young used to approach director Joe Carnahan, just to see if he was interested. Carnahan came onboard as a director in January 2009 and worked on Woods’ draft along with co-writer Brian Bloom (who also stars in the film). Carnahan revealed that he and Bloom wrote about over ten drafts. “The TV show was cheesy for sure,” said Carnahan. “We’re not doing cheesy.” Stephen J. Cannell, the creator of the original TV series, was also involved as a producer.
Liam Neeson became action-man material after the success of Taken and was one of the first actors to sign on. Bradley Cooper signed on after hearing that Neeson was attached. Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley became involved largely because they were fans of the TV series, with Jackson having already auditioned for Singleton. Interestingly, Cooper and Copley had signed on before their respective films The Hangover and District 9 had even opened. Shooting took place from September 2009 to December 2009 with the production budget coming in at a cost of $110 million.
The story tells of four army rangers - Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson), and Murdoch (Sharlto Copley) that make up The A-Team. Stationed out in Iraq, they take on a black ops mission by CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) to retrieve 100 dollar bill plates and a billion dollars in counterfeit money. They complete the mission, but minutes after recovering the plates, they are suddenly stolen by Black Forrest leader Brock Pike (Bloom). Court martialed and believed to be a part of the theft, they are sent to prison. Six months later, and with a little help from Lynch, Hannibal escapes and gets the team together to find out who set them up and to clear their name. Hot on their tails is DCIS Captain Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel), who also has a bit of history with Face.
The problem with doing any kind of adaptation is the issue of just how “faithful” it should be to the original. With The A-Team, if it’s radically different from the TV series that the fans grew up with, then they’re probably not going to be won over. If it’s exactly the same, then the film would not be offering anything new, just the same old thrills which would ultimately beg the question, ‘What’s the point?’ It’s about finding the balance, which is easier said and often not found at all then actually done.