An explosive tale of double cross and revenge, The Losers centers upon the members of an elite U.S. Special Forces unit sent into the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team--Clay, Jensen, Roque, Pooch and Cougar--find themselves the target of a lethal betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Presumed dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they're joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda. Working together, they must remain deep undercover while tracking the heavily-guarded Max, a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war. (from Movieweb.com)
Many times, subjects and themes seem to hit the cinemas in pairs. This year, we've already seen two films with a Greek mythology theme and now two films with vigilantes bent on revenge. The first of these films came from Warner Bros. in the form of The Losers (the second was Fox's The A-Team), an abrasive action film based on a graphic novel of the same name. "The Losers" are five soldiers who disobey direct orders to mark a terrorist's location for bombing when they see that the enemy has used innocent children as a shield. Although the soldiers get the children to safety in the helicopter that was meant to extract the military team, our heroes are framed when the helicopter was destroyed, killing the children. Now disgraced and assumed dead, the Losers must either lay low for the rest of their lives, or find out who framed them and attempt to get their lives back. Like the film based on the TV show, The A-Team, these men are fugitives out for revenge and to make what was made wrong right again. And, sadly, like this summer's The A-Team, it's carried out in an often profane and violent way.
The cast assembled for the Losers is a strong one that helps add a fun element to the film. There's great camaraderie among the central quintet of vigilantes, lead by Clay (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and supported by Chris Evans, who adds a lot of comic relief through his tech geek personality. Idris Elba, who TV fans might recognize from season 5 of The Office, plays the edgy loose cannon, Rogue, while Columbus Short is fun as Pooch and Óscar Jaenada is great as the always reliable Cougar. There's an admirable loyalty among the core of the group that makes you want to root for the Losers, even if they aren't always the best role models making the best choices.
And like The A-Team, The Losers feels much more like an R-rated film that was cut back just enough to obtain a PG-13 rating (whether it was or not). Much of the subject matter is adult-oriented and handled in a stylized way (most likely inspired by its graphic novel origins). The language is considerably frequent and the violence is handled rather flippantly. The movie doesn't take itself all too seriously, with even the violence being taken casually at times. While it's intentionally not very realistic, the sarcastic and over-the-top villain Max seems to kill so randomly that it just feels excessive when it happens. Jason Patric plays Max so uniquely with a sarcastic wit that it makes him borderline likeable -- so much so, that it may actually make his more heinous acts seem even uglier. The attitude and vibe of The Losers is that they enjoy what they do because they're so good at it, but it never quite comes off as infectiously fun as the current A-Team entourage does. And with the content being as edgy as it is, it's certainly going to suck the fun out of the classic good guys versus bad guys merit because of how crusty the good guys tend to be. The Losers' team leader seems all too quick to hop in the sack when he meets the sexy Aisha (played by Avatar and Star Trek's Zoe Saldana), while Evans' Jensen uses an instance of public indecent exposure as part of a plan, and the guys have no problem using colorful language throughout the film as well. Still, they support each other selflessly when the going gets tough, and it's the most redeemable thing about our heroes.
As mentioned, the language is pretty colorful. Rogue spouts the film's single "F" word quite unnecessarily, while the cast utters at least 24 "S" words and an assortment of other profanities. Some crude comments or jokes are made, and we briefly see some blood during the fight sequences and briefly as one of the main characters is getting a wound stitched up. Also unnecessarily, we see a brief sensual sexual encounter between Aisha and Clay, as the two kiss and grope during a slow motion montage. Again, it's brief, but it's awkward and stylized to revel a bit too much in their passion. I suppose, compared to most rated R fare, all of the content would be considered mild, but The Losers adds up to be a pretty rough-around-the-edges PG-13 action outing.
But The Losers sets out to be a popcorn action film for those who enjoy movies you can shut your brain off for and view purely for entertainment. The acting is decent and the guys are fun to watch together, but the content could have easily been lightened up and still have worked as a story just as well (and more recent films like Inception prove you don't need all the language or sexual material to make an entertaining film).
The Losers most likely flopped at the box office due to its stylized approach that is certainly an acquired taste for some. The slow motion - a la John Woo - utilized for the action sequences never bothered me, but I can see why it may seem like a tired gimmick to others. The movie keeps things simple when it comes to plot and formula, so it works as entertainment, but it certainly not everyone's cup of tea. I enjoyed the characters, chemistry and story enough to be interested in a continuation of this series, but the language and sensual content were big hindrances for me. The film is left wide open for a sequel, but I'd be surprised if it does get a follow-up. The Losers certainly isn't as bad as its box office reception or reviews have made it seem, but due to the content, I can't exactly recommend it either.
The Losers translates quite nicely to blu-ray, and Warner Bros. has released the high definition version in a generous combo pack that also includes a regular DVD and digital download. Along with these extras are a few behind the scenes featurettes...
Zoe and the Losers (5:41) - The first of the behind-the-scenes featurettes is dedicated to actress Zoe Saldana, who plays Aisha in the film, and their casting of her to play the female lead opposite the Losers. It features the director and assorted film crew gushing about Zoe, as well as the actress herself talking about the role. We also see some behind-the-scenes footage of Zoe learning the hotel room fight scene with Morgan as Clay, and a few other sequences. (There's also a little bit of language in this featurette)
Band Of Buddies: Ops Training - This feature is a series of three sub-featurettes, titled "Walk The Ops Walk" (5:41), "Transforming Puerto Rico" (5:21), and "Going Deep Into The Action" (5:50). The first sequence focuses on the special ops training that the cast had to undergo to pass off as real soldiers. Here the crew talks about the realistic gear employed as well as the true military consultants used to add some realism to the film. "Transforming Puerto Rico" reveals that the entire film was shot in Puerto Rico... even when the story took the movie back to the States. This segment features more of the cast talking about their roles as well as the country itself, and we get to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast and crew on set. Finally, "Going Deep Into The Action" goes a little more in-depth into the action style and sequences of the film. Here, the director talks about how he wanted to capture more of a first-person view of action (like in video games) and we see some pretty cool gear that filmmakers use to accomplish feats like this. The featurette ends with a neat revelation of how they film Clay's long fall dive near the end of the film.
The Losers: Action-Style Storytelling (10:09) - For anyone familiar with the comic books, this is the ideal featurette. It features the British creators and writers of the comic, James Vanderbilt and Andy Diggle, as well as many unedited moments from the film (which feature some of the profanity and violence from the movie). Because I have no history with the comic, this was pretty informative and neat to hear the perspective of the creators of the series. Pages and frames from the original comics are shown here too, along with interviews with cast and crew as well. A very informative piece.
Deleted Scene (0:45) - The brief deleted scene features actor Chris Noth, who is not in the finished film, calling up a villain from the movie who we otherwise assume died at the end, revealing that he in fact survived, and presumably enlists his help to go after the Losers. It sets things up for a sequel (should it happen), but since there's no commentary for this single, mysterious deleted scene, it's unexplained as to why this was filmed and ultimately left on the cutting room floor (and then added to the blu-ray as a teaser...?).
Extras - The "Extras" is simply a 15-minute preview of the animated direct-to-DVD film Batman: Under The Red Hood.
Although thin on features, The Losers home video release still offers enough goodies for fans of the film to sink their teeth into and go a little deeper into the making of the action film. Anyone hoping for a commentary audio track will be sorely disappointed as there isn't a single commentary track included. Still, the features included are adequate and the movie looks great in high definition.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/19/10)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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