Review: The Losers
PLOT: A group of special ops soldiers; consisting of leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), hacker Jensen (Chris Evans), mechanic Pooch (Columbus Short), sniper Cougar (Óscar Jaenada) and weapons specialist Roque (Idris Elba), are betrayed and left for dead by their handler, Max (Jason Patric). The group, dubbed `The Losers` team up with a beautiful, and mysterious woman named Aisha (Zoe Saldana), who promises them a chance to clear their names, and get revenge against Max.
REVIEW: THE LOSERS is a perfect example of the `turn your brain off at the door' action film. It's mindless in the extreme, but- as most action fans already know, that`s not necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, THE LOSERS, which is based on a DC graphic novel that I must admit I'm not familiar with, is a fun action ride.
Right from the first big action sequence that opens the film, which ends with a bus full of cute kids getting blown up by the evil Max (complete with a shot of a burning teddy bear), you'll know exactly what you're in for. It`s a big, loud, and dumb action flick, where the laws of physics don`t apply, nobody can shoot straight, a bullet wound is just something to be shrugged off, and a major shoot-out in downtown Miami complete with .50 caliber machine guns won`t draw any cops, or result in any bystanders getting hurt (this is PG-13 after all).
Luckily, director Sylvain White seems to realize just how silly his movie is, as the whole thing has a rather tongue in cheek approach, which will delight some, and infuriate others. For the most part, the actors seem to be in on the joke. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (formerly The Comedian) makes a solid, Tom Selleck-ish action hero (if they ever do a MAGNUM P.I movie, Morgan would be the only choice), and he essentially plays the noble, straight-man,, who gets the lion`s share of the action sequences.
Supporting him is Zoe Saldana, fresh of her star-making turn in AVATAR. I love Saldana, but I was less impressed with her in THE LOSERS, compared to STAR TREK and AVATAR, as I just don't buy her as an action heroine when she's not playing an 8 foot tall Navi. The big problem is that she`s just too damn tiny (she looks like she weighs maybe ninety pounds) to be believable as this ultra-bad ass warrior. I also found it a bit ridiculous that she tends to shed her clothing every time she gets into an action scene, although I admit Saldana is gorgeous, and like I said in my reviews of AVATAR, STAR TREK, and even DEATH AT A FUNERAL, she's a talented actress.
The rest of THE LOSERS are very well cast, with future Captain America , Chris Evans being the standout as the wise-cracking Jensen. The sequence where he breaks into a high tech data corporation is great, with him belting out Journey's classic Don't Stop Believin' , before talking down some security guards by claiming he's a telekinetic super soldier (with this scene being heavily featured in the trailer). Idris Elba, of THE WIRE is good as Clay's second in command, with him not coming off quite as noble as the rest rest of the true-blue LOSERS, and I also liked Columbus Short as the family man LOSER, and Óscar Jaenada as the bad-ass, silent sniper, 'Cougar'.
A lot of people will also really enjoy Jason Patric as Max, with him channelling James Woods as the smarmy, wise-cracking villain. However, Patric was one of my big problems with the film. For one thing, I didn't find him the least bit menacing as he was too damn funny (the guy's even making SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE jokes). We already have comic relief from Evans, so why is the villain also funny? And he's so over-the-top, and Snidely Wipelash-ish that I half expected him to break out into an evil cackle at time, or at least twirl a mustache (alas- Patric plays this mustache-less).
Which leads me to my other big problem with THE LOSERS- it's not very exciting. Sure, there's plenty of action, but the action scenes are straight from the LIVE FREE, OR DIE HARD action play book, with everything being so over the top it seems like it came out of a video game. Never once did I think any of the heroes were in any danger, as they were seemingly invulnerable. One of them even gets shot in both his legs, but that's not enough to keep him from hobbling around in the final action scene. While I did enjoy the way one of the baddies was dispatched (involving a motorcycle and a jet turbine), for the most part the action was mind numbing, and overly stylized (White uses every music video-style scene transition, and CGI trick in the book).
All in all, I enjoyed THE LOSERS for what it was, but I must admit to being disappointed. The trailers made the film look a little more down to-earth than the bloated action flick I ended up getting. I miss the good old days where not every action flick had to be epic- and hopefully Sly will be able to deliver some old school action with THE EXPENDABLES later this summer. THE LOSERS isn't a particularly great action film, but considering that with a few exceptions (DISTRICT 13, CASINO ROYALE & possibly TAKEN) that seems to be a somewhat lost art these days, it's probably about as good as we're going to get.
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