STUDIO: Warner Bros.
TIME: 97 Minutes
- Deleted Scene
- Band of Buddies: Ops Training
- The Losers: Action-Style Storytelling
- Zoe and the Losers
- Digital Copy
Five covert operatives get burned on a mission and are treated as traitors and presumed dead. But they aren’t, and a mysterious woman gives them a chance to restore their names and grant them revenge on the man who betrayed them.
Director: Sylvain White.
Writers: Peter Berg & James Vanderbilt. Andy Diggle (comic).
Cinematographer: Scott Kevan
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Zoe Saldana. Chris Evans. Jason Patric. Columbus Short. Idris Elba. Oscar Jaenada.
While Hawkeye slept, the Captain played with all his toys. Including the Black Widow.
The Losers is a stylish, lean and loose action flick built around a colorful cast and absolutely zero cares about taking itself too seriously.
If Sylvain [Stomp the Yard] White’s The Losers accomplishes nothing else, it reminds the world how great Jason Patric is. As the villain Max, the somewhat maligned actor gets a chance to chew scenery in a way almost too good to be true and deliver a character whose eccentricities and foibles help prevent a movie about a somewhat serious and scary subject (our top watchdogs betraying us to our enemies and really dangerous weapons being sold to the highest bidder) from taking itself too seriously. Patric has always been a good actor [watch his ‘Timmy’ monologue from Your Friends and Neighbors for proof], but it’s a role like this that showcases his comic timing and sheer presence.
I wonder if this is the only review of The Losers that mentions Your Friends and Neighbors…
“Her name is Paula Robson! Her name is Paula Robson!”
The good thing is that Patric’s one of many people in this movie just having a good time. Though the film is as light as light gets in the content department [one of the most lean and threadbare mid-level films in some time], everyone involved does their part towards keeping the proceedings moving well and there’s a very specific energy to the movie that upon first glance came off a little weird but upon repeat viewings makes it kind of a special little flick. The Losers actually improves over time and is a little like a cinematic apéritif to enjoy between bigger and more dense action flicks.
The concept of a team of tough guys getting burned by their handlers and getting revenge is as original as a feel-good movie featuring a puppy, and The Losers breaks absolutely zero ground in furthering the subgenre. And it’s fine because of the terrific cast and a few little moments that prevent the film from being just another action flick on the shelves at the video store.
To hone his chops, Morgan did the Sizemore part in Summer Stock performances of Michael Mann’s Heat.
When a mission goes bad and a lot of innocent children die, the ‘Losers’ are set up as traitors and presumed dead. A group of highly trained soldiers, they lie low and wait for an opportunity to make it back to the states. That opportunity comes in the delectable form of Aisha, a mysterious woman who knows an awful lot about the team and their mission. She’s not to be trusted, something which is proved when her first ‘date’ with Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Clay involves punches, kicks, and a hotel in cinders. But she’s a ticket home, and the tension in the group is already strained to know that complacency’s not going to work.
So they partner up with Aisha, much to the chagrin of Roque (the always pitch perfect Idris Elba). The villainous Max has not only betrayed The Losers but has gotten his hands on a weapon that destroys things very fast without any long lasting damage [translation: A WEAPON OF FICTION] and and is lining up bidders of all races and creeds. The scattered Max moments do just enough work to make the antagonist not a totally disposable subplot but in reality it’s a chance to see Jason Patric insult, freak out, and demean everyone he’s sharing the screen with. Even the always fun Holt McCallany as his right hand man gets the piss taken out of him in a priceless moment atop a radio telescope.
“For the last time, stop calling me TV’s Hawthorne.”
Once the crew is stateside they take the fight to Max and his well-appointed cronies. From there the film becomes about action beats, double-crosses, and a few moments that explain why the comic book (from the talented Andy Diggle and Jock) was deemed worthy of a feature.
It works. Just barely, but it does, thanks in part to the capable cast and some fun moments that sell you on these folks being worth rooting for. They’re barely two-dimensional characters but when Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, and Chris Evans are playing them the leap of faith is rather easy.
“Um, you’re supposed to eat the placenta. Not the whole child.”
The action premise, coolness factor of the pulp origins and thematic conceit will get you in the door and the little moments and great characterizations will win you over. Also, Miss Saldana is as hot as they get. All in all it’s a flick that knows exactly what it is and doesn’t move a muscle in trying to exceed that. And it has great timing. What we didn’t need was another cynical action flick but something footloose and without a serious bone in its body. It’s not a spoof or satire, but it’s awfully playful.
“Mmmmmm, tastes like myself sauce.”
It would have been a great if it ended up being a Peter Berg movie as originally planned. As it stands it’s a pretty good Sylvain White movie but it’s just a few ticks shy of being really special.
But it’s really re-watchable, a fact that surprised me…
The special features are decent and though it’s not massively appointed it’s no pushover either. What is great about this Blu Ray honestly, is that there’s a digital copy. I liked this movie in theaters. I liked watching it on Blu Ray, but this is a movie that’s fun to watch in spurts or skip to specific moments or have playing in the background and I’d never had known that had I not put it on my iPad.
Some of the criticisms I had about the movie not trying to stake new territory and being sort of slight in the genre pantheon serve it well here. There’s no plot to follow, just fun character moments and a general lack of angst.
This is a keeper.
8.0 out of 10