Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie Review: The Losers

Mornin' sexypantses.

It's Monday! The exclamation point isn't me showing excitement, it's in lieu of a curse word. See, I can behave. My weekend was jam packed with busy-ness. Friday was spent catching a movie (I know, my free time is so diversified) and catching up with a friend, Saturday was running some errands, and Sunday was babysitting my niece all day. Yeah, I'm tired. That's the point of weekends, right? To make you exhausted so you can take the week to recover...wait...

Anyway, I caught The Losers this weekend, and was subsequently overwhelmed by its commitment to mediocrity. I don't want to go too deeply into spoilers (I pretty much avoid giving them like Fox News avoids providing facts), but let me say that this entire movie is inconsequential. That is to say, not one plot point or thread is resolved in the film. Not one. How do you do that? Do you really think that The Losers is going to be guaranteed a sequel? Your biggest stars are Zoe Saldana's supple butt cheeks, how do you KNOW there's going to be a sequel? Spoiler alert: You sucked at the box office. No sequel for you. True, I won't lay awake at night trying to figure out where the magical misadventures of The Losers will go next (and if I wanted to know, I'd read the comic book series), but it would have been nice to have an ending or significant event mixed in. Here's the full review:

The Poseurs
The Losers lost the plot

You know the saying about “assuming,” right? When you “assume” your tepidly paced, modestly budgeted, slapdash action movie automatically warrants a sequel, you make an “ass” out of “u”…and anyone who paid to see something actually happen. Catchy saying, huh?

The Losers is the “other” type of comic book adaptation: the kind based on material with which not even all nerds are familiar. Based on the Vertigo Comics series written by Andy Diggle (perhaps the best real name that sounds like a porn name), the characters were faithfully transferred by screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. The plot, however, was forgotten and left somewhere to die alone. This may sound harsh, considering that The Losers is actually sporadically charming thanks to a cast chained together without a weak link to an anchor-shaped narrative; then again, if nuance was ignored on screen, why should it be found in the review?

The Losers is “The A-Team” with more racial and gender equality. Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is the “Hannibal,” the gruff-but-lovable leader of a special ops unit framed for a crime they didn’t commit and targeted for execution by Max (Jason Patric), a government official whose rank is never given but who seems to run the entire United States. Max intends to start another war by using a new weapon of mass destruction, called a “Snuke,” which is nowhere near as adorable as its name. You guessed it, it’s up to Clay’s disgraced unit to stop Max and clear their names.

Morgan, whose business cards should read “Call me when your project doesn’t warrant George Clooney,” is sufficient but less engaging than his castmates. The scalding supernova that is Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) once more melts celluloid as Aisha, a mysteriously intentioned stranger who helps the rag-tag gang; Idris Elba (“The Wire,” “The Office”) brings his bad attitude and semi-mohawk as Roque; and Oscar Jaenada is the silent-but-deadly sniper, Cougar. But it’s the soon-to-be Captain America, Chris Evans, and Columbus Short who steal the show as Jensen and Pooch, respectively. If The Losers were reedited to be Jensen and Pooch, it would be a box office phenomenon.

The Losers was never going to be groundbreaking, but director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard) is too timid with the violent set pieces, as if he were afraid to turn the dial up to ridiculous or down to realistic. Combined with perhaps the least pulse-pounding music to ever join a series of explosions (bad, John Ottman, bad), the action never climaxes and the plot doesn’t resolve a single thread…not one. The only thing audiences are really left with is a mild affinity for the characters and a memory of Jason Patric hamming things up like his middle name was porkchop.

Expecting The Losers to be sophisticated is silly, but expecting it to be fun is fair. As is often the case when hubris makes it on screen in the form of a wink-and-nod guarantee by the characters that they’ll be back for more, they won’t be…and nobody’s really losing out here.

Grade – C

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