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!