Guilty Pleasures: The Losers

the losers

Based on a comic book for Vertigo, D.C’S “Mature” label, The Losers’  language and violence is toned downby director Sylvain White, but it still packs a peppy punch, with, guns, one–liners and good music galore from John Ottman (The Usual Suspects, X-Men 2).

The black ops team are set up to eliminate a Bolivian drug lord who knows too much about the villain’s plans. They escape their own planned deaths when they stay behind to let rescued kids take their doomed pick up chopper. Tossing their dog tags into the flames licking around a kids teddy bear (did Damien from Drop The Dead Donkey edit this?), they vow vengeance. To clear their names, they escape to the L.A underground. If you need help…wait, this isn’t an A–Team retread. It’s actually got more heart than it’s bigger budget rival, with a more convincing through line of action. Too bad Warner Bros didn’t get behind it more, as it is a blast, a kind of modern day take on the Burt Lancaster / Lee Marvin western, The Professionals.

The cast inhabit their roles well, with a convincing camaraderie. They are each introduced in a slick comic book style freeze frames, lettering announcing their name and specialist skill set. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Clay the grizzled leader, Idris Elba his grouchy, resentful second in command Roque. Chris Evans is Jensen, the joker in the pack. Columbus Short is family man Pooch (“I’m the black MacGyver- BlaGyver!”) and Oscar Jaenada is Cougar, the tight lipped Mexican sniper. Zoe Saldana is Aisha, a CIA asset who helps them but has her own agenda.

Locations are suitably gritty and colourful for a globe trotting action plot. The humour of the comic is ramped up with Jensen getting the bulk of the yuks. As he infiltrates The villain’s corporate facade HQ to retrieve computer data he legs it to “Don’t stop Believin’” (which was a cool use of the song before Glee killed it) after fooling dumb guards that he has telekinetic powers (“Face down. Or I’ll make your heart stop beatin’ with my mind.”).

Clay and Aisha have a curious fight / foreplay when they first meet, trashing a cheap hotel room, somewhat reminiscent of Brosnan’s first meeting with Onatopp in Goldeneye. The battle at the port of L.A is well staged but slightly underwhelming in scale. Lots of shots are reminiscent of the comic though, and at least it’s clear what’s going on.

Villain Max (Jason Patric) is a rogue CIA agent who wants to stage terrorist attacks to enable further policing action by America. That’s not far – fetched is it, conspiracy freaks? He plays him as quietly crazy / silly – “What the hell was that? (to a henchman) At most that was a break his fingers nod, not a throw him off the roof nod.” A black gloved fist hints at Dr Strangelove lunacy.

The film condenses and alters the the plot of the comic, replacing the complex and politically charged villains plan with a more far-fetched McGuffin – a super eco-weapon that leaves no harmful after effects. Unfortunately the film leaves itself open ended, half–heartedly hoping for a sequel. Overall though, it’s a not so dumb  and effective action flick that sizzles with a cool vibe.

Originally posted 2014-01-20 19:39:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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