Losers, The

Over the years, I’ve noticed there's often a pair of movies with essentially the same plot, premiering within a year of each other: Wyatt Earp (1994)/Tombstone (1993) and Deep Impact (1999)/Armageddon (1999) ,to name a few.  In the summer of 2010, movie-going audiences will be treated to three films about spec-ops teams (that "happen" to be the best of the best). Betrayed, the teams leave their government duties behind to take on a suicide mission with personal significance.  Director Sylvain White’s The Losers holds the distinction of being first out of the gate before The A-Team (2010) and The Expendables (2010).

Based on the DC Comics book of the same name, Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his unit have been betrayed by the evil CIA super handler Max (Jason Patric), and are believed to be dead.  With the help of mysterious femme brutale, Aisha (Zoe Saldana), Clay sets out on a plan to take down Max and reclaim their identities.  This is as complicated as the film ever gets.  Luckily, The Losers has more than enough colorful characters to distinguish itself from every other paramilitary action flick on the market.

Jason Patric’s Max is the type of villain we used to enjoy in the older Bond films.  He has plans for catastrophic destruction that will strengthen the U.S. while making him a sizable amount of money.  All the while, Patric brings a creepy, business executive quality that is never unentertaining.  Contrasting this is Idris Elba’s Roque, the standard tough guy.  It almost felt like a shame, since I know Elba has the ability to make the character much more interesting.  But I can’t complain because Elba playing a tough guy is still Elba playing a tough guy.

I hadn't seen or heard of Columbus Short or Oscar Jaenada before, and was pleasantly surprised with their ability to command attention.  Jaenada especially, since his character doesn't really speak. Chris Evans, however, totally steals the show as Jensen.  Between the outrageous t-shirts and inspired moments of nerdy awkwardness, I never got tired of him.

Action-wise, there are very few dull moments.  White paces the film well by interspersing explosions, gunfights, sex-fights, and accidental murders, with punchy Oceans Eleven-esque dialogue.  However, the movie does not provide any real surprises and follows the textbook action movie format, almost to a fault. But it’s still a fun time and holds up well.  It almost does a perfect job adapting the comic book, even covering what is essentially the first story arc collected in the trade paperback “Ante Up.” I appreciated the attention to detail in plotting and the arranging of specific shots from the comic.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the ending takes a more typical “Hollywood” tract, and thus avoids the more interesting and thought-provoking commentary on the military-industrial complex that writer Andy Diggle infused throughout the comic series-but who needs thinking when there are sweet explosions!

Push

It would seriously be cool to move shit with your mind. Think about it: Football Sunday, game's in full-gear, but your beer is all the way on the other end of the coffee table, requiring you to shift your butt from that perfect spot on the couch that you just spent the last 30 minutes getting just right. According to the world history of Push, this age-old conundrum can be solved by simple genetic mutation. Solution? Telekinesis, baby!

At the heart of this story is Nick Grant,  a rather crappy telekinetic played by the charmingly never-serious Chris Evans, whose father was murdered by Agent Carver (portrayed with arrogant menace by Djimon Hounsou), and has been on the run ever since.

When we catch up with the perfectly stubble-faced Calvin Klein model protagonist, he's attempting to win money by manipulating dice games, fails and gets punched in the head. Enter 13-year-old Cassie (Fanning), who is the definition of precocious. A hard drinker with knobby knees and huge boots, she tells Grant they can get six million dollars, but then the future changes. Constantly. First, they're going to die. Then everyone's going to die, and then everyone and their mother is going to die.

No, seriously.

Unless they can enlist the aid of a motley crew of ex-pat psychic-powered people against the sinister Division, a government organization that nabs psychics and uses them for Nefarious OperationsTM is...going to grab them and use them for Nefarious OperationsTM.

Then-DOOM is certain.

A bunch spiffy psychic action sequences happen, followed by some advancement of a silly plot that's actually reasonably well acted and not boring, then some more action, and a few neat twists which I'm just not going to give away here.

The special effects are smoothly worked into the set pieces and the cinematography takes everything it knows from all kinds of eastern cinema.The plot of movie is actually less convoluted than you'd expect from a movie with people who can alter memories and see the future to be, and it actually leads into to some nice twists, but this is an action movie, not Dark City-do not expect depth of story. (For the record: if you haven't seen Dark City, shame on you)

Years ago, action movies were more provincial: there was the Hong-Kong flick, the French actioner, and the American blockbuster. But as time has gone on, movies- especially action movies-have been become more and more diverse in their stories and casts. Push is probably the most diverse of these movies to date, with no less than six countries represented by its performers.

Push is very unique film. It's a stupid-yet-fun action movie, with elements of a heist picture mixed with a video game, and is setup to be the first film in a trilogy that will never be made. The best angle to take for a Cavalcade is to go international action, with Time and Tide to follow this one.