Is there something written that good, enjoyable films have to make sense, be internally consistent and not have dumb continuity gaffes? I hope not, because that perfectly describes my reaction to The Losers, yet another Hollywood film based on a graphic novel. This time it’s from Dark Horse comics and it’s about a group of CIA “black ops” bad boys who are left for dead in Bolivia after what appears to be a drug lord takedown gone awry.
The titular Losers are Jensen (Chris Evans), Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), Pooch (Columbus Short) and Rogue (Idris Elba), let by Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and they have the kind of sarcastic, smart-ass dialog that we’ve long since learned to associate with how tough guys demonstrate affection towards each other. Indeed, so much of The Losers is formula that given the basic premise, I bet you could write the script too.
What makes the film work is that the story is actually interesting, the plot twists make sense and are even occasionally surprising, and the commanding screen presence of Zoe Saldana (who plays tough-girl Aisha), fresh from her success in Avatar, highlights the performances of the entire cast.
The story is reminiscent of many films of this genre — and doubtless The A-Team will feel much like this too when it is released — but I have to admit, I laughed, I admired some of the action scenes, and I enjoyed myself. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but if you enjoy action films, it’s a rollicking, non-stop 98 minutes of cinema.
Most buddy action films are a series of set pieces loosely tied together by a weak narrative, with the obligatory back story and love interest. To some extent, The Losers fits into this mold, with the initial Rescue The Kids from the Bolivian Drug Lord and the Attack the Armored Car scenes as standouts.
The dialog was fresh and entertaining. When Clay first meets Aisha (Saldana), she looks at what he’s eating and asks “how’s your steak?” He looks at her, then says “meaty”, then a few seconds later “want a bite?” to which she coyly answers “maybe later…” Since the genre is so overdone, action scenes and dialog are two of the very few ways that these films can differentiate themselves, and there’s enough repartee between the six of them that it really works well.
The problem I had with the casting was Jason Patric as Max McCash, the evil mastermind. The role was weak to start, but Patric brought nothing to the role and felt miscast. Since badguy heroes need to play against a strong enemy, Patric ended up one of the weakest elements in the film. I yearned for someone like Alan Rickman in the role, someone who knows how to ooze danger and aggression.
Max still had some great lines, however, including one scene where his evil henchman misinterprets a gesture and throws a hostage off the roof of a skyscraper. “That was a hit-him-in-the-face nod, not a throw-him-off-the-roof nod!”
The nefarious evil weapon that Max is trying to obtain and, of course, the Losers are trying to stop him obtain, is a “snook”, a sonic dematerializer. The scene when it’s demonstrated in the film is so odd, though, that I felt it was actually a video game that one of the guys was playing, and I expected the camera to pull out to them sitting in front of a TV screen, wasting time. Still, as a weapon, it seemed pretty darn interesting, which is why it was disappointing it didn’t detonate again later in the film.
With lots of great action scenes, a terrific performance by Zoe Saldana, and an interesting, if flawed, storyline, The Losers isn’t a great action film, but it’s sure an entertaining one. I recommend it if your tastes run to Bad Boys, Rush Hour, The A-Team and similar.