Directed by Sylvain White
Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Jason Patric
Release date: April 23, 2010
If you had told me that someday we would see a movie based on the DC/Vertigo comic series, The Losers, I would have been surprised. Not that the series, written by Andy Diggle with art (mainly) by Jock didn’t deserve to be made into a movie. Far from it, as the series was a big budget action movie put onto the page. It just seemed unlikely that we would see it. However, the Hollywood gods have seen fit to translate it into the blockbuster it was envisioned as.
The Losers follows a squad of special forces who are forced to track down a shadowy figure named Max after they are burned on an operation. Max (Jason Patric) is supposed to be some big CIA spook and the Losers have to track him down so they can clear their name. The plot is mostly an excuse to get them from one action scene to the next, as Max is never fully fleshed out and his motives are never made very clear. He is just an excuse for the main characters to find something they can blow up.
And blow stuff up they do. The film is at its strongest during the action and heist sequences. Each action scene is exciting, and each one is used to provide decent character moments. If you’ve got a soft place in your heart for the heyday of the 80’s action movie, this is a movie that will be right up your alley. The only thing missing is the ultra-violence of those classics. I wish that they had made this an R-rated film rather than going for the weaker PG-13, and this is more of an indictment of a lot of Hollywood movies. If I go to an action movie, I want to see some serious action, not the restrained action on display here. This is just my personal taste though, and I’m just ranting a bit.
The main cast does a great job of bringing the characters to life, and they have a lot of fun with those characters. The role of Jensen seems like it was created with Chris Evans in mind, and he’s probably the high point of the film. Really, all the main actors are good in their roles, but Evans certainly stands out thanks to his natural charisma. He plays the same type of character that Ryan Reynolds plays, and they get by with essentially the same shtick. The rest of the cast is filled out with respectable actors, but none of them stand out quite so much as Evans does.
A problem for me personally was the “Watchmen Effect,” by which I mean that this is a very faithful adaptation of the first 6 or so issues of the comic, so there weren’t a lot of surprises to be found. Those who haven’t read the book should find a couple of good twists towards the end, but if you’ve read the comic, you won’t find anything to set it apart. In fact, lack of surprise is one of the main issues I had with the film. Having seen the trailers, and being unable to avoid the commercials, I had seen all the good moments from the movie before I paid my 10 dollars. If you’ve seen a single commercial, you’ve seen the movie, and this is a problem with a lot of movies, but it’s especially true with this one.
The biggest problem however is Jason Patric. His turn as Max, the big villain of the film, is neither menacing nor funny, and the film’s creators can’t seem to decide which direction to take the character in. What this means is that even though the main characters are fun to watch, you don’t really care what happens to them, and that hurts the whole film. We’re told that the Losers feel like they have to take down Max in order to get their life back, but it’s never really earned. Max is boring, weak, and not the terrifying shadowy figure that he should be. If Max had been played by a better actor, or if he had been better written, I would have enjoyed the film a lot more than I did. One other niggling issue: Do not call your doomsday weapon a “snuke” because I will be reminded of a certain South Park episode and I will laugh whenever it is mentioned.
This will make a great rental once it hits DVD, but I wouldn’t say you have to go out of your way to see it in theaters. There are fun moments to be had in the film, but it’s also brought down by some bad acting and forced dialog at points. I don’t want to sound overly negative about the film. There are a lot of good things about it, but not enough of them for me to give this a solid recommendation, not when there are better movies out there. I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5. I’d still recommend the original comic though, mostly because it’s able to go into more detail than what we’re given in the film.