Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe
Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, Jason Patric
Director: Sylvain White
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: July 20, 2010
The Losers is one of this year's biggest surprises, and for many reasons. It comes to us based on a graphic novel that I've been told wasn't that impressive to begin with, director Sylvain White's previous credits include the dance movie Stomp the Yard and the straight to video sequel I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (OUCH!), and it was released to theaters a week after Kick-Ass which, as far as graphic novel adaptations go, is unbeatable. To put it lightly, I was more than ready to be let down.
However, this movie is anything but a loser (apologies for perhaps the worst pun in history). It is an eager-to-please, visually stylish, often hilarious and heavily action packed flick. The energetic pace and fantastic cast play a huge role in the movie's success.
The graphic novel from Vertigo/DC Comics could very much be considered a comic book version of The A-Team. The plot of the movie is virtually identical to that of the popular 1980s television series. In other words, the movie's release just a couple months prior to The A-Team movie should not be considered an accident.
The story opens in Bolivia, where we are introduced to our ragtag covert military unit. They consist of Jensen (Chris Evans), the team's tech wiz, Cougar (Oscar Jaeneda), an expert long-range sniper, Pooch (Columbus Short), who handles transportation of weapons, and Roque (Idris Elba), who is the explosives expert. Rounding out the bunch is team leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Their mission is to take out a Bolivian drug lord. However, once they see a school bus full of kids arrive at the target's hideout, they abort the mission and race against the clock to get the kids out of harm's way. The team then storms the facility, take out the drug lord, and rush the kids to safety by placing them in a nearby helicopter, originally intended as the team's method of escape.
But things end badly when the team's employer orders the helicopter to be shot down. A missile is then launched, taking out the copter in midair and killing the kids. Because they were supposed to be the targets of the missile, Clay and his team immediately rip off their dog tags, throw them into the flames of the burning copter, and declare themselves dead, leaving them stranded in Bolivia with no money or passports.
The goal now, as they've officially become “losers”, is to somehow track down their former employer who tried to kill them. But given their current status, that's going to be a little more than difficult. That is, until Clay comes across a flirtatious woman in a Bolivian bar who turns out to be much more than she appears.
Her name is Aisha (Zoe Saldana) and she claims to have the necessary resources to help Clay and his team get back into the United States. She can also supply them with whatever weapons and means of transportation they need (helicopters and such). But most importantly, she can get them closer to the man they want to take down.
His name is Max (Jason Patric), a CIA mystery man who has plans of world domination...but by unique means. He has come into possession of a deadly weapon that is environmentally friendly (how's that for progress?). Through a demonstration, we learn that this weapon can destroy a target at the level of a nuclear blast, but the twist is that it doesn't add any pollution to the atmosphere.
Plot-wise, there is nothing significant about The Losers. This is simply a movie where all you have to do is shut your brain down for 97 minutes and enjoy the hell out of it. The movie is fast, funny, and not boring for a single minute, which are three basic things that one should demand when watching a movie like this.
But the biggest strength in this movie is the chemistry between the actors in the lead roles. They know they're in a fun romp of a movie and play off each other terrifically well with expected one liners and comebacks. The humor factor is unexpectedly high in this movie, and it results in many huge chuckles.
Many of those come courtesy of Chris Evans, who I am a bigger fan of now thanks to this movie. He's not afraid to make himself look like a tremendous buffoon, which is what his character ends up doing quite frequently. One such scene is a computer theft sequence which contains the single best use of Journey's “Don't Stop Believin” to date, which is definitely an accomplishment since that song seems to appear in every other movie.
Another high note in the cast is Jason Patric, an actor known for taking parts in more serious films. So maybe he did this part for an easy paycheck, but he turns in a rivetingly snarky performance in what is essentially the most demented, wise-cracking villain to never appear in a James Bond movie. I don't think I've laughed harder at the actions of a madman as I did in a scene where Max, walking on a beach with a female assistant holding an umbrella over his head, reacts questionably after...well you'll just have to see because it's oh so priceless.
And as far as the super-sexy factor goes, we got Zoe Saldana. In addition to being the sexy gall that she is, she also made me believe that she could kick my ass in a heartbeat. In short, her role as the mysterious and tough-as-nails Aisha is one to truly make all the females out there happy...and guys too.
Overall, The Losers is a prime example of a what a comic book action flick should be. It's got a great deal of visual style to it, the action is definitely satisfying even by PG-13 standards, and the actors have endless fun with the material. If it's mindless fun that you seek, this movie has got everything you're looking for!
“As the ancient Tibetan philosophy states, Don't start none, won't be none.”
Warner continues their grand streak of outstanding Blu-ray presentations with this release. The visual style and color arrangement is presented spectacularly from pretty much the opening sequence in Bolivia, and it never lets up. Image detail is stunning throughout, and there isn't a single flaw to be seen. This is pretty much the kind of movie that greatly benefits from an HD presentation, and this Blu-ray release illustrates that completely.
“That's right bitches...I got a crossbow.”
The DTS HD mix is quite explosive, to say the least. A movie as energetic and action packed as this can be expected to deliver the audio goods in lossless sound, which is exactly what this one does. Again, we get nothing but magnificent and engaging surround sound right from the opening of the movie. And there are countless explosions, gunfights, fist fights, broken glass to be heard in this grand presentation. The soundtrack is also a bonus, including Journey and Ram Jam, among others. In short, it's a sound mix that will do nothing short of knock your socks off!
“Face down, or I'll make your heart stop beating with my mind!”
This Blu-ray from Warner features a good bit of exclusive extras, though I wish there was more to go around. We do get an acceptable amount of behind the scenes material, including “Band of Buddies: Ops Training”, which is a three part look at the making of the movie and covers such ground as training sessions with military advisor Harry Humphries, a look at the making of the many actions sequences, and how Puerto Rico was used as a stand in for multiple locations. There's also two additional featurettes; “The Losers: Action-Style Storytelling”, which delves into the comic book series that inspired the movie and “Zoe and the Losers”, which focuses on how Zoe held her own with the mostly male cast. Lastly, we have one Deleted Scene and a sneak peek at the upcoming release Batman: Under the Red Hood.
I wasn't expecting much out of The Losers, but I ended up having a total blast with it. It gets the job done in being nothing more than an easy to please guilty pleasure, with endless amounts of action and laughs at its disposal. And on Blu-ray, it's even more explosive!