Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Losers

Title: The Losers
Director: Sylvain White
Released: 2010
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Óscar Jaenada, Jason Patric, Holt McCallany

Plot: Presumed to be dead after being double crossed by the mysterious Max (Patric), Clay (Morgan) and his special forces team nicknamed "The Losers" are given a chance for revenge when they are tracked down by the mysterious Aisha (Saldana), a beautiful operative with her own agenda.


Review: With the key comic properties like Spiderman and Superman now essentially being tied up either by the major studios or Marvel themselves thanks to the success of their own Marvel studios a gamble which it is safe to say has more than paid off with their Phase one series of films. So with the public demand in the last few years for comic book movies and the studios as always looking for any way to milk a trend, it is hardly surprising that more indie comics have started seeing big screen adaptations, a trend which it’s safe to say that this film belongs in.

Based on the comic book series of the same name, released by DC Comic’s as part of their Vertigo imprint, which also serves as a home to fellow indie favourites Sandman, 100 bullets and Fables, while also providing movie fodder on more than one occasion with Hellblazer (which became “Constantine”), A History of Violence and V for Vendetta all being released via Vertigo. Still the series is hardly known outside of comic book fans, making it an usual choice for a film adaptation and meaning that upon its original release, most movie goers didn’t even realise it was a comic book movie.

Like the A-team on crack, this group of ex-special forces operatives, each bring their own special set of skills, while working under Clay’s leadership, a man guided by his own moral compass and one which soon leads to their attempted murder by Max. Making up his team of self-titled losers are
  • Jensen (Evans) – Intelligence specialist and computer hacker, aswell as the groups oddball and comic relief.
  • Pooch (Short) – transport specialist, so if it rolls or flies he is all over it, aswell as the owner of a dog bobblehead, whch somehow makes it into every vehicle he gets behind the controls of.
  • Cougar (Jaenada) – The almost permanently mute sharpshooter with an affection for his cowboy hat.
  • Roque (Elba) – Demolitions

While the group make up might hardly be anything new, the way in which they choose to operate, acting like a group of superheroes who don’t actually have any superpowers, while using largely guerrilla tactics with a heavy dose of humour to get the job done, with this intoxicating blend really helping them to stand out from the groups which came before them. Aisha meanwhile plays the wild card of the group with her dubious sense of alliance to the group, while marking the start of Saldana establishing herself as an action heroine, something she would continue with “Colombiana” a character none to dissimilar to the character of Aisha, especially seeing how both are more than capable of looking after themselves, let alone packing their own impressive armoury of weapons as especially seen here, as she proves herself more than capable of holding her own with the boys on more than one occasion, as highlighted by a couple of room trashing fistfights with Clay while reaching a pinnacle of badassery when she appears suddenly welding a rocket launcher under one arm at the finale.

Meanwhile the losers themselves are capable of unleashing their own brand of hell, even if they are generally more low key about it, with any outlandish action heroics kept to mainly to the opening and finale which also include this shining moment of badassery from Cougar, which makes me wonder why more people haven’t pick up on this film.

The rest of the time, they tend to stick to more low key infiltration and engaging in the occasional round of military grade grand theft auto, while director White continually gives the impression that he is atleast trying to do something which hasn’t been seen 100 times before. Still it is an infectious mix of comedy and action which White brings to the table, most of it via Jensen a character which Evans is clearly having a ball playing, as he always has a wise crack no matter how dire his situation gets, while more randomly even managing to convince a group of security guards that he has the power of mind Bullets!

The casting here is great while especially spot on with Morgan, making a great lead for the group with his gruff charm and gravelly voice and after seeing him previously as The Comedian in “Watchmen” it is nice to see him playing a more lighter character, that you don’t feel so guilty for liking, which was always the problem with the Comedian. What fails though with his casting in this role is the unlikely romance his character has with Aisha, which while important to the storyline still comes off as clumsily handled. Elsewhere Patric is suitably villainous as Max, always sharply dressed while carrying a dark sense of humour as he argues with his henchmen over mistakenly interpreted nods, after said henchman throws one of his scientists off a roof, while equally prone to random acts of violence as he shoots a girl carrying his umbrella for allowing the sun to momentarily shine on him.

For one reason or another this film never got its due upon its release and like the equally overlooked “Shoot Em Up” has been left for the action fans to rediscover, now it has been largely forgotten by most, which only makes it more of a shame when this film is so much fun from start to finish, while giving us a group whom I would have loved to have seen further adventures with, something I seriously doubt we will be seeing anytime soon, so for now we might aswell just enjoy it for what it is. A one shot curiosity and a snapshot of what could have been, but one worth giving a look none the less.

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