John Singleton stepped out of the director’s chair for the feature film adaptation of The A-Team after a lot of interesting talk, including wanting Woody Harrelson for the role of “Howling Mad” Murdock, but now the project has a new and interesting director – Joe Carnahan. He recently wrote the screenplay for Pride & Glory, and his last directorial effort was Smokin’ Aces. Although the latter was a really slick mess, he cut his teeth on gritty pictures like Narc and made his first splash with a movie entitled Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane. If that title doesn’t convince you that Carnahan knows how to do macho, nothing will. Except maybe the fact that Ridley Scott is going to produce and Tony Scott is going to executive produce.
The goal is to strip the campy 80s touches from the core concept of a crack commando unit being sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and then promptly escaping from a maximum security stockade and escaping to the Los Angeles underground to help those who no one else can help. Carnahan and the Scotts can get this done. A major change is updating the team from being Vietnam vets to serving in the Middle East, but that conflict has similar controversy and hazy goals, so it’s a fertile breeding ground for stories about internal conflict in the military. The major question to be answered is one for the ages: how in the world do you recast Mr. T?
Ice Cube had expressed serious interest in playing B.A. Baracus, and he said that the script he read included a mental breakdown wherein he shaved his head into a mohawk. Later, Tyrese Gibson was rumored for the role as well. Harrelson would be a great choice for Dwight Schultz’s Murdock, and Dirk Benedict’s Templeton “Faceman” Peck needs a true chameleon to play a guy that’s supposed to be the master of disguise (and no, we’re not talking Pistachio Disguisey). Jeremy Piven might be a nice choice, but this one’s wide open, and could certainly be tweaked to get a little more diversity in the team with no trouble. Hell, they could even pull a gender-switch, which would likely make Benedict wonder what’s up with recasting his best-known roles with women. Would you watch an A-Team movie with Katee Sackhoff as Face? I sure would. Finally, you’d need a very credible and cocky silver-fox mastermind to take on George Peppard’s John “Hannibal” Smith, and I think it’s for good reason that I keep coming back to George Clooney. He’s got desert soldier chops from Three Kings, and he could just take Danny Ocean and morph him into a stogie-smoking hardass. Tell me you can’t hear Clooney perfectly delivering “I love it when a plan comes together.”
To get a sense of Carnahan’s work, check out his Sundance hit Narc, starring Ray Liotta.