"The Losers" Movie Review (2010)

4/24/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"The Losers"

Directed by Sylvain White, Written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"The Losers" is a lot of fun. At least, it is when it understands it's an over-the-top action comedy, and not some kind of super-serious revenge story.

Based on a comic series by Andy Diggle, the film follows a crew of mercenaries led by Colonel Franklin Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). After defying orders to save some kids, the group is framed and stuck in Bolivia, and with the help of a mysterious benefactor named Aisha (Zoe Saldana), they begin putting together a plot to ruin the man responsible, a "CIA super-spook" (as they call him) named Max (Jason Patric), who intends to set off a devestating nuclear device in Los Angeles in order to start a new war against global terrorism.

First off, the cast is excellent. Morgan channels his "Watchmen" persona The Comedian as leader Clay, and he's really great here, as is Idris Elba as his second-hand man and knife expert Roque. But the real scene-stealing performances here are from Chris Evans and Columbus Short as Jake and "Pooch." Evans has always been underrated--he may have been stuck with bad material in the "Fantastic Four" films, but he still managed to make it work. He's endlessly funny and charismatic here. Short--who recently gave one of the best performances in "Death at a Funeral"--is also totally hilarious, and together the duo is completely unstoppable, providing most of the best lines in the film. And not to be forgotten is Oscar Jaenada, who rounds out the group as Cougar, the silent sniper.

These five and Saldana all work enormously well together--but, like I said, the film only really works when it understands it's a comedy. Most of the time it plays out like a live action cartoon. Stuff blows up, our heroes get in shoot-outs with a hundred people and come out unscathed, the villain makes jokes about midgets and nuclear war--but then we'll get a scene where everybody gets totally serious all of a sudden and morality, revenge, and personal responsibility muddles up the otherwise completely goofy and enjoyable dialogue. It's likely this is just a result of translating the story from comic to screen, as things that can resonate dramatically in a comic book might not work quite as well in a film (case in point, "Watchmen").

But that's a small problem. It only pops up every once in a while and when it does it doesn't last long. Otherwise the film is endearingly silly, and most of the action sequences are pretty great. I wouldn't even call myself much of an action fan, but when a film like this is able to pull off uproarious moments like Evans holding up a trio of security guards with finger guns or an explosion chasing Short and a school bus full of kids through a jungle, you can't help but be engrossed by all the insanity.

Director Sylvain White, previously responsible for the, uh, less-than-stellar "Stomp the Yard," actually seems pretty at home with this crazy action stuff, and with the film ending on quite an open-note, I'd be happy to see him and these excellent performers return for a second round. "The Losers" isn't quite "Shoot 'Em Up," but it's still insanely fun.

Grade: B-

View the trailer for "The Losers" below.  What are your thoughts of the movie?

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