Losers, yet fun


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), led by Clay ( Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and they have the kind of sarcastic, smart-ass dialogue 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.

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.

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 dialogue are two of the few ways that these films can differentiate themselves, and there’s enough repartee between the six of them that it really works well.

The weak link in casting was Jason Patric as evil mastermind Max McCash. The role was weak to start, but Patric brought nothing to it and felt miscast. Since bad-guy heroes need to play against a strong enemy, the film was at its weakest when he was on screen. I yearned for someone like Alan Rickman in the role, someone who knows how to ooze danger and aggression.

The nefarious evil weapon that Max is trying to obtain and, of course, the Losers are trying to stop him from obtaining, 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. Still, as a weapon, it seemed pretty darn interesting, which is why I would have liked to see it used more in the film.

With lots of cool action scenes, a terrific performance by 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. 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.