Yet another adaptation of a cult TV series, The A-Team surprises by what it gets right; the lively casting, the semi-serious tone, and the outlandish action. Faster than Liam Neeson can proclaim his love for a plan coming together, the movie launches a credible update that sees the A-Team as Iraq war veterans framed for a crime they didn’t commit and sent on the lam to clear their name. Missing, however, is a plot worthy of the characters and the spirit of an 80’s action movie. Sorry, folks, but the plight of missing US Treasury plates – what they use to print legal money – just doesn’t fit the, ahem, bill. In the end, The A-Team misses the opportunity to capture the essence of its originating TV series in much the same way JJ Abrams’ reinvention of Star Trek misses. Both films end with a recitation of their respective TV series’ opening narration, and both fail to justify them. In Star Trek, it was galling to be told about the final frontier and strange new worlds to explore after watching a film that consisted of exploding planets and conflict with a banal revenge-minded villain. In The A-Team, the premise of a team who can help you if you can find them is nowhere to be seen. The guys are too busy with treasury plates to find anybody in need of help. How much better would the film have been if the plot required them to choose between helping the oppressed and clearing their names...or finding a creative alternative? Much.
Although no one could accuse it of ambition, the similarly-themed The Losers, based on the Vertigo comic, manages to deliver an actual plot on top of interesting characters and high-energy action. A special ops team is framed for the deaths of innocent civilians during a raid on a drug lord. Naturally, they become fugitives as they track down the man responsible for both the slaughter and various other nefarious activities, their CIA handler code-named “Max”. It’s all old-school fun, not to be taken too seriously but not too cartoony either. Proving that a well-executed Bond-style villain is a vastly more engaging source of antagonism than missing treasury plates, The Losers win by having Jason Patrick deliver a singularly bizarre and memorable role. Yes, I love it when a plot comes together.