Review: 'The Losers'

Review: ‘The Losers’

I did you a favor and refrained  from making a pun out of the film’s title in my headline, though I had to physically restrain myself from doing so. From acting to editing, to continuity and dialogue, this film was an awful mess.

I’ve grown to  enjoy and look forward to comic book adaptations over the last year. Watchmen and Kick-Ass were some of my favorite films of the last twelve months, so I went into The Losers (based on a comic by Andy  Diggle) with an open mind and high expectations.

Things went swimmingly well  for the first five minutes  or so, but then the movie had its first action sequence, and director David Sylvain embarks on a torrid love affair with ill-advised editing.  He loves slow-motion. He loves the fast edit. He loves the stop/go/stop again editing. Most of all, he just loves to edit the holy living crap out of any scene he can get his hands on. As long as the camera is moving erratically, he is like a kid in a candy shop, and it ruins the movie.

The editing tricks become the primary focus of the movie, and once you start noticing them, they will plaque you incessantly until the conclusion of the film. There is just no need for a lot of it.  For instance, there is a kinda-sorta hot love scene between Zoe Saldana and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

It’s sizzling-until Sylvain can’t keep his hands off of it and feels the need to have Saldana flip her hair over her shoulder in super-duper slow motion, which instantly renders the scene laughable. Another scene has the villain Max (Jason Patric) walking down the steps of a plane. He can’t just walk down the stairs.  Sylvain has him freeze on every step, then go again. Why?

The Losers are a group of ex-CIA who narrowly escape assassination after a mission and go into hiding in Bolivia.  The charismatic and charming Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays “the colonel” and leader of the group.  He is approached by Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who lures him back to his hotel room, where the two immediately engage in a fight to the death, for reasons left unexplained.

After ten minutes of tussling, while the hotel curtains are burning in the background, Aisha tells Clay (Morgan) that she wants to hire his team for an assignment.  Why didn’t she just say say from the get-go? Oh, that’s right, it wouldn’t have looked as cool, and there would certainly be no opportunity for burning curtains in the background.

That’s what I felt was a major flaw with the movie. It’s all style and no substance. Entire scenes are placed in the movie because they look cool, whether or not they make sense is of secondary concern.

The group travels all over the world, in hot pursuit of Max (Jason Patric) at Aisha’s bidding.  I am still not sure what the actual plot was, but again, who cares about plot, when you can have EXPLOSIONS!

The cast is likable, but Jason Patric is laughable.  He has to deliver some of the worst lines I have ever seen in a movie, like “Home again, home again, jiggity jig” with a straight face.  His villain is ridiculously over-the-top.  It’s awful.

The rest of the cast is fine, although I’m certain no one needs to be dusting off a spot on their mantel for an acting award just yet.  As mentioned before, Morgan is appealing, and Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and Oscar Jaenada comprise an intriguing band of rogues.  Chris Evans, though,  is an odd fit. It appears he is supposed to be a lady killer, but he has horrible frosted hair and a predilection for neon and pastel t-shirts.  Sexy he is not.

Also miscast is Saldana. She’s beautiful, and I don’t have an issue with her acting, but are we really supposed to buy that she is an ass-kicking mercenary?  Please.  She is painfully thin, without an ounce of muscle on her, yet she is toting around guns that we know she can’t actually lift in real life.

If you are going to have a woman play this type of role, make sure that they sport a modicum of muscle.  Linda Hamilton was convincing in Terminator 2 because she looked like she could kick someones ass.  Zoe Saldana looks like I could lay her out cold with a fly-swatter.

Co-writer Peter Berg seems to be slumming it here. He wrote Very Bad Things (a nifty little movie) and Friday Night Lights, so it is hard to believe he signed off on this script, which is bogged down by awful dialogue and lots of continuity issues.

One team member gets shot (quite badly) in the shoulder/pectoral region. After being sewn up with thread from a drugstore, he willingly shimmies up the side of a building, pulling himself up with sheer upper body strength, while the others cheer him along, even though there were four other people (who were not shot in the upper body) who could have gone instead.

Also, one character gets shot in both legs. We are reminded of this fact several times, as he keeps telling everyone he cannot walk or stand up.  By golly if he isn’t running with a firearm, wreaking havoc in the very next scene.

Perhaps I am being too harsh.  I am sure there is an audience for this nonsense.  If you didn’t find Crank frenetic enough for your liking, this should be perfect.  The Losers makes Crank look like Henry V by comparison.