On DVD: The Losers

There are countless ways to interpret a comic series for the big screen, not including story. “The Losers” could’ve been done as a straight-up action film about a team of black ops soldiers getting revenge on the man who left them for dead, but director Sylvain White opts to honor the source material with an equally slick production. Although it fattens the film up with action movie clichés, it gels with the tone of the script and the carefree romp that is “The Losers.” More importantly, it passes fun action movie rule number one: acknowledge your film is nothing more than a fun action movie.

Just like the A-Team or any other group of specially trained individuals featured in TV or the movies, each member of The Losers has his own area of expertise. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clay, the leader, Columbus Short as Pooch the large/explosive weapons specialist, Idris Elba as Roque the I honestly can’t remember, Chris Evans as Jensen the techie with an awkward sense of humor and Oscar Jaenada as Cougar the sniper. Together, when a mysterious walkie-talkie voice named “Max” messes up their pre-opening credits mission and shoots down the helicopter they were supposed to be on, they go under the radar (aka everyone thinks they’re dead).

That’s when they meet Zoe Saldana as Aisha, the beautiful but deadly woman that offers them a chance to get back in the United States and to find “Max.” Hardly trusting her but left with few other choices, they agree. The story jumps from city to city and mission to mission without much set-up time in between. We also get a firsthand look at who Max is and that he’s looking to purchase some new-age sonic weapons called “snukes.”

“The Losers” plays out like a video game. Each scene follows a formula consisting of mission debriefing and/or scene where the characters argue over whether the mission is the right thing to do and then we go straight to the mission to watch the characters in action. There are a few scenes with Clay and Aisha, one being the only time hand-to-hand combat appears in the film (which is too bad, the scene looked and felt cool) and then there are some jumps over to the way Max crosses just about every man he works with. The film approaches him as some heartless classic television villain with an excessive sense of humor.

The script keeps its wit about it, which is to say it wants to be funny and hardly is. Evans carries a lot of that weight as Jensen. His portrayal is thorough, but the character has some really bad writing behind him. Max is supremely unfunny, though it does work as a portrayal of a classic fictional villain.

The pacing and cleverness of most of the action scenes makes “Losers” a good time. It would’ve been nice if not every big sequence ended in a poorly done CGI explosion (only a couple explosions appeared to be real stunt work) but the creative intent behind it was generally solid. The film and especially its script cuts a lot of corners, but respected writers Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt know exactly what they can’t afford to cut if the film and its main characters are to stay relevant and though White is no master, he adds some respectable machismo and visual prowess to what’s left.

3/5 Stars

The Losers
Directed by Sylvain White
Written by James Vanderbilt and Peter Berg, Andy Diggle (comics)
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Chris Evans


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