Theatrical Review: The Losers

An elite CIA Black Ops team is in Bolivia to kill a special target. Led by Colonel Clay, the team consists of Roque, a knife expert and Clay’s second-in-command, Jensen, a specialist in tech and communication, Cougar, an expert sniper and Pooch, their transportation expert. They’re in Bolivia to take out a drug lord and everything for them looks run of the mill until they see that children are involved. Clay tries to call off the mission, but it goes ahead anyway, under the orders of Max, who heads this entire operation. Clay and his team decide to buck the order and go in and rescue the children. They accomplish what they set out to do and their target is still killed. They lead the children to the helicopter that the team was to be extracted in, with Clay and his team staying behind due to weight limitations. The helicopter is destroyed right in mid-air, and now Clay and his team find themselves left behind and wanting revenge. They get that opportunity thanks to a mysterious women named Aisha, who has her own vendetta against Max. And then hijinks ensue.

That’s the premise to The Losers another new comic book-to-movie adaptation from Dark Castle Entertainment and director Sylvain White. The comic itself is from DC/Vertigo and is written and illustrated by Andy Diggle and Jock. I haven’t read the comic before, but if the movie is any indication, I know I want to lay my hands on some trade paperbacks as soon as I can. I thought this was one highly entertaining film.

I’m not familiar with any of Sylvain White’s other work. Previously, he’s directed Stomp the Yard and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, two films that I didn’t really have any interest in seeing. With The Losers though, he shows that he can really put together a tightly paced and stylish action movie. One of the things that I really like about this though is that it seems a sort of throwback to some of the B-movie action films of the 80s, but with a little modern spin on it. I also really like his action set pieces, they’re very nicely staged and just have a terrific look.

But the biggest thing that this has going for it is an excellent cast. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clay, has sheer credibility to his character and I’d certainly buy that these guys would be willing to follow him to hell and back. The rest of the team features Idris Elba as Roque, Chris Evans as Jensen, Oscar Jaenada as Cougar and Columbus Short as Pooch. All of these guys are great, but I have to give special props to Evans. Evans is the wise-ass of the group and he does it without being annoying and in fact is very entertaining. Zoe Saldana plays Aisha and she’s on a real roll lately having appeared in such films as Star Trek and Avatar. She continues to impress here with both her sexuality and her willingness to get in there and get dirty with the boys. Jason Patric plays Max and he’s really good in his bad guy turn. He chews scenery in an understated way and the fun that he looks like he’s having on-screen certainly shows.

They all have solid material to work with thanks to a nice script from Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. It’s my understanding that Berg was originally slated to both write and direct this. After bowing out, his first draft script was given over to Vanderbilt for a re-write. I have no idea how much of the original script remains here, but if what’s on screen is any indication, I could easily have seen this being something by Berg (Hancock withstanding, he’s one of my favorite directors working today). Also, having not read the source, I don’t know how true to it the movie is. From what I’ve seen of the comic’s visuals though, it certainly looks on point.

I had a ball with this. Yeah, there are all sorts of cliches and stretches of real-world logic, but when it’s put together this well, it doesn’t matter. This is the first of our three big “men on a mission” movies of the year. The other two movies being The A-Team and The Expendables and I’m really looking forward to both. The Losers sets the bar for them to follow and it does it really well. If you like 80s style team action movies with a pulp flavor, you couldn’t do better than to go out and see The Losers. Highly recommended, one of my favorite movies of the year so far.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

25. April 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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