Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Losers

Boy, nobody liked this movie. The critics tore it apart and it made (according to boxofficemojo) only 28 million dollars or so worldwide. All things considered, it was a huge flop. But when you watch the trailer, it looks like fun and you wonder how it could be so bad. And it turns out, it is fun and it isn't bad... but it just wasn't great.

The Losers is based on a Vertigo comic series that I've never read. I have read some of the Jack Kirby issues of the original Losers comic on which the new series was based, but they weren't all that great. They were notable for having some great Kirby art, but not a whole lot more. According to a Kirby biography I read a while ago, Kirby agreed to take on the WWII comic because he was a vet who served in that war, but he never felt comfortable with a series that referred to American G.I.s as "losers." Truth to tell, I never knew from the comics why they were called the Losers, nor does the movie attempt to explain it as well. But anyway, we're here to talk about the movie, not Jack Kirby.

And the movie is pretty good, as far as these things go. It opens with a special ops team that risks jeopardizing a mission in order to save a bunch of children, and then end up faking their own deaths to... You know what? It doesn't matter. It's all just an elaborate set up to have a bunch of mercenaries willing to take an assignment in order to get their lives back and return home to American and to their families. Although, truth to tell, the guys are so light hearted and jocular that you never really get a sense that they want to return home, or get their former lives back, or do anything, really, except for sit around with each other and crack jokes.

But this film succeeds solely on the charm of the Losers. This is seriously one of the coolest casts I've seen assembled in a while. These guys are just likable and are given cool stuff to do and allowed to kill lots of people in very stylish ways. I've always liked Jeffrey Dean Morgan and thought he was a stone cold cool actor. He was great in Watchmen, he's always fun when he pops up on that show Supernatural, and he was great here in a role that played to his strength's perfectly. His chemistry with co-star Idris Elba (another actor who's also always cool) is incredible. These two should make a series of buddy cop movies together. They were fun to watch and played off one another perfectly.

And Chris Evans is always fun. He's just a funny,  likable actor. He's like Ryan Reynolds but more handsome and less smug, if that makes sense. His comic timing probably isn't quite as spot-on as Reynolds's, but he's more effortlessly charming and seems less smug. There's one scene where he has to change clothes in an elevator and it stops and the doors open so some chicks see him naked. He smiles and says something like, "You ladies liking the angle of the dangle?" That's just a bad line. Whoever wrote that line should be embarrassed. It's not funny and it doesn't even make sense when you think about it. But Evans made it work. I laughed.

I also really liked the other two Losers, Pooch and Cougar, but I don't know the names of the actors nor had I ever seen either of them before. Also, Zoe Saldana was in it as the hot chick, and she pulled it off ok. I don't actually find her all that hot (sorry!), but she's certainly a pretty girl with a lot of screen presence. But neither the actress nor the character did all that much for me. She was cuter in Star Trek.

Unfortunately, this film's major weakness is that the bad guy sucks. The main villain Max was written as a quirky, wisecracking, evil genius that seemed perfectly tailored for a quirky actor like Chris Walken or John Malkovitch. Too bad they got Jason Patric, who certainly cuts a fine figure in a suit and is probably a good actor, but he was really miscast here. He just doesn't have the gravitas or sense of humor for a role like this. He sucked and never seemed like much of a match for the Losers. Jason Patric is one of those actors whose name in the opening credits of a film always gets me excited, until he comes onscreen and I realize I was thinking of Robert Patrick. Now he would've been awesome as Max. It also didn't help that his main plan and intentions were kept nebulous and mostly unexplained. Who was Max and what was he trying to do?

Anyway, I liked it, but I didn't love it. It seemed too much like a great bunch of characters in search of a better movie. There was action and great camera work and stunning locations, but there was no real focus or sense of momentum. There were too many double and triple crosses back and forth, diverting plot threads that went nowhere, and a real lack of closure to almost every character's storyarc. But, again, it was fun to watch the Losers joke around and then kill bad guys. Too bad it made no money, because I would've enjoyed seeing a sequel.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

I've never seen this, but I'm cracking up at the "angle of the dangle" line. That's so ridiculous that it's funny.

And you know, it occurs to me I actually have no idea who Jason Patric is. But Robert Patrick is always cool. Why not just get him? I just saw him in an episode of Burn Notice last night playing the bad guy. He's good at it.

I've been tempted to rent this one a few times because of Morgan and Evans.

Donald said...

I honestly think you'd enjoy it. The performances from the lead actors were enough to make it worth watching.