For those who can remember when MTV actually played music videos, the rebirth of The A-Team franchise is the best thing to happen since the Commodore 64. And for the rest of us? Well, isn't there something inherently great about watching people set aside their individual differences, tap their inner resources, and apply themselves to a greater goal?
A large number of moviemakers must think so — they've taken the basic team-building idea and run with it in so many directions that not even a 'copter piloted by The A-Team's "Howling Mad" Murdock could track them all down. If we weren't busy building a tank out of a water cooler and some stuff we found in the stationery closet, we'd provide a comprehensive list. Instead, here are the 10 most-memorable team-ups.
10. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
They're the lowest, vilest form of scum that ever.... They're going against Hitler? Never mind.
Usually you build a team with the best people in their fields. But what if your guys are the best at being bad? Set during WWII, this team of 12 is a conglomeration of thieves, sadists, murderers, and rapists — with the hard-assed Lee Marvin
leading the likes of Telly Savalas
, Charles Bronson
, Jim Brown
, and (as special guest Method gangster) John Cassavetes
. Considering that their goal is to take out a chateau of Wehrmacht
officers, you can see where a certain, anti-social attitude might help.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Why not leverage teens' natural, clique-forming abilities?
By now, we all know Freddy Krueger's modus operandi
: Enter teenagers' dreams and slaughter the solitary souls in their sleep. It's the ultimate divide-and-conquer strategy. But then he goes up against teens in a psychiatric hospital who happen to have a psychic bond. Under the leadership of former victim Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp
) and spiritual nexus Kristen Parker (realllllly young Patricia Arquette
), they join forces, hoping to use the mutable world of dreams to beat the murderer at his own game. Gotta give them credit — beats watching CW reruns while waiting for your doom.
8. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
The Mongols were sort of the garage band of their age.
Given a time machine to help ace a high school report, most teens would take the path of least resistance: Pick a time period, go back for a look around, write up some impressions. But that's not good enough for Bill (Alex Winter
) and Ted (Keanu Reeves
). These rockers organize a most-excellent class-report-cum
-rock-concert featuring no less then eight historical figures, including Napoleon (Terry Camilleri
), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin
), Genghis Khan (Al Leong
), and Sigmund "Frood" (Rod Loomis
). They also expose the icons to such future-shock innovations as shopping malls, water parks, and the caloric nightmare known as the Ziggy Pig. Frankly, we're amazed the gang didn't then band together to stop the Industrial Revolution.
7. Mission: Impossible (1996)
If you're going to betray your #1 spy, better trash his Rolodex.
A treacherous mole takes out the Impossible Mission Force, but leaves the resilient Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise
) and Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart
) alive and equipped with a laptop — all they need to sift through a list of former IMF members and turn up the perfect muscle (Jean Reno
) and hacker (Ving Rhames
) to track down the traitor. Granted, the new team is a little loose-cannonish, but we've yet to see a complication that the patented "Cruise boyish charm and cocky attitude" couldn't overcome.
6. Juggernaut (1974)
It's lonely at the top, even without the potential for a horrible, fiery death.
However skilled the individual team members, it all boils down to who's in charge, and that person had better be able to handle the pressure. Enter bomb-disposal expert Anthony Fallon (Richard Harris
): When terrorist Juggernaut announces that he's salted a British cruise ship with numerous time bombs, it's the task of Fallon and team to parachute in, swim treacherous mid-Atlantic waters, and take out the explosives. With the clock ticking, Fallon has to defuse one of the booby-trapped devices, while his team stands at the ready with their own bombs, following his step-by-step lead. This, clearly, is not a gig for anyone whose leadership experience never got past assistant manager at the local Dairy Queen.
5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
They're the most fearsome fighting force the Pantages circuit has ever seen.
Remember: Team specialties need to be commensurate with the mission. When dealing with international espionage, one recruits disguise masters, weapons experts, and uber
-hackers. But for Dorothy Gale's (Judy Garland
) escape from a land filled with flying monkeys, dissembling wizards, and wicked witches, the best backup comes from an all-singing, all-dancing lineup that includes a resourceful scarecrow (Ray Bolger
), a stalwart tin man (Jack Haley
), and a (not really that) cowardly lion (Bert Lahr
). The ensemble may not look like much, but just ask that weirdly moaning pool of dark liquid if these guys can't get the job done.
4. MICMACS (2010)
This gang is always ready for a scrap. Get it? Scrap? Yeah, okay, sorry.
Let's consider this human dumpster-diving. A stray bullet lands in Bazil's (Dany Boon
) brain, losing him his job, overturning his life, and leaving him with an overwhelming desire for revenge. (Especially when the munitions manufacturer of said slug also crafted the landmine that killed his father in the Middle East.) With no other resources to call upon, he recruits a team of sympathetic junkyard outcasts — including a disturbingly limber contortionist (Julie Ferrier
) and an embittered human cannonball (Dominique Pinon
) — to enact his revenge. It's the weirdo squad vs. the military-industrial complex, and since director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
) long ago pledged his allegiance to the ranks of the peculiar, you know the corporations are going to go down hard.
3. A Bug's Life (1998)
Nowhere does The Art of War propose staging A Chorus Line.
Desperate to save his colony from a raid by marauding grasshoppers, earnest ant Flik (Dave Foley
) gathers together a group of seasoned circus performers for his fighting force. The troupers — which include David Hyde Pierce
as a neurotic stick bug, Madeline Kahn
as a glamorous moth, and Denis Leary
as a pissed-off ladybug (for obvious reasons) — are skilled, intrepid, and ready to go. They also think they're just putting on a show for the grasshoppers. But, hey, there really isn't much difference between show business and mortal combat — just ask anyone who's done open mike at a comedy club.
2. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
They bring pistols, rifles, and knives — plus the coolest bald head in history — to the battle.
Desperate to save their harvest from a raid by marauding outlaws, an impoverished farm community hires seven gunslingers for its fighting force. Yul Brynner
takes point as leader, with Steve McQueen
as his second-in-command, while each of the recruits — including Robert Vaughn
, James Coburn
, and Charles Bronson
(dodged that Dirty Dozen
hangman, eh, Chuck?) — comes to fight for different reasons, be they quests for redemption, cash, or just plain legitimacy. Despite diverse motivations, they join forces to help empower the powerless, which is probably more nobility than the real Wild West ever saw.
1. Seven Samurai (1954)
There's more in that white take-out container than a side dish for yakisoba.
Desperate to save their rice crop from a raid by marauding bandits, impoverished farmers recruit seven samurai for their.... Do you detect a pattern here? The Seven Samurai
is it's source. The movie delivers so perfectly on the "rally your forces" theme that it has inspired Westerns and animated films (numbers 2 and 3 on our list, if you didn't guess), as well as pretty much any movie where disparate hands join forces to fight insurmountable odds. We don't know if director Akira Kurosawa
— aided and abetted by actors Toshiro Mifune
and Takashi Shimura
— planned it that way, but when you've got the likes of bugs, gunfighters, and aliens (check Battle Beyond the Stars
; we didn't want the list to get too redundant) joining forces, that's some mighty team-building power right there.