DVD Review: ‘The Losers’

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Action Movies, Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , , ,

The Losers probably shouldn’t exist, at all. Which may be why I liked it so much.

When it got greenlit, some producer probably thought, “Oh man! We can make an ‘A-Team‘ movie, with traces of ‘Burn Notice‘ DNA, and we don’t have to pay any licensing fees!” And then the A-Team movie actually happened, and everyone involved with The Losers probably thought, “Aww, damn it!”

Make no mistake: The Losers is “The A-Team,” blended with “Burn Notice,” with a smidgeon of comic book goofiness. If that sounds completely awful to you, that’s okay. Read no further (I’m kidding, keep reading).

If that sounds like something you could spend 90 minutes with, then my friend, have I got a movie for you. 

Let me knock out the criticisms first, before I tell you the five reasons you should probably go ahead and watch this movie:

THE CRITICISM
Based on reviews, it seems the big problems were that it’s a self-congratulatory action-flick with stock characters, mild misogyny (in a femme fatale way), and an unfortunate ambition to be a multi-picture franchise. Aaaand, it’s a bit “comic-bookish.”

To which I say: What action movie ISN’T? There’s some tropes you have to accept, and if you can’t, t’s okay – you’re just not someone who wants to watch an action movie.

Oh, and also: At least they’re well-written stock characters, with pithy dialogue and good performances. GOOD. PERFORMANCES. This isn’t Stallone and Lundgren – these are actors who can actually act (or, in Jason Patric’s case at least, chew the living shit out of scenery). So. There’s that.

Okay, now let’s talk about…

THE GOOD

1)      This is a Comic Book Action Movie – by which I mean, it’s an action movie that accepts the physics and logic of a superhero movie, and that’s a good thing. I’ve watched a ton of shitty action movies, but this is the first one to realize those earlier flicks were just superhero films without costumes, and decides, “Yeah, why NOT be proud of your starting point?” The first act is littered with art and panel reproduction from the original DC/Vertigo comic, signaling to viewers: “Yeah. It’s a comic book come to life. Enjoy it for what it is.”
In this sense, it may be the first gateway comic-book movie. It has the same enthusiasm, sense of humor and self-awareness, and larger-than-life attitude as a good superhero movie, while also showcasing the standard-issue bad-assery of 80’s-era action flicks. It’s basically telling 13-year-olds: “Hey, did you like Iron Man, but wished there was less armor and more gunplay? Come on over here, then.”

2)      This is a pretty funny movie – Maybe it’s Jason Patric’s performance as a villain who seems equal parts Ari Gold and Lex Luthor, or maybe it’s the high-speed bickering between Chris Evans and Columbus Short, or maybe it’s the tough-guy posturing between Idris Elba and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but…I prefer action movies where the dialogue is devoted to tough guys picking at each other, and a bad guy just being BAD. It makes me smile.
(Example:  “It’s like giving a handgun to a six-year-old, Wade – you don’t know how it’s gonna end, but you’re pretty sure it’s gonna make the papers.”)
Also, there’s a running gag about Evans’ character’s intense devotion to his eight-year-old niece’s soccer team that just made my day. Not enough movies play to the Devoted Uncle Crowd, and as a card-carrying member, I was happy for the pandering.

3)      It’s put together really, really well – In no particular order: You can follow all the action clearly (no shaky-cam bullshit); you understand and sympathize with every character’s motivations without being banged over the head with them as a thematic device; and you can accept the PG-13 violence levels (the leads don’t kill wantonly – tranq darts are par for the course, unless the bad guys are really, really worth killing). Thanks, director Sylvain White. You are forgiven for I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.

4)      It kind of makes fun of the very idea of an A-Team movie – I don’t know if the filmmakers were aware that an A-Team movie was in the offing (and my assertion that the comic began life as a rejected, re-written A-Team treatment is just a guess), but in this movie, Hannibal’s full-proof plans have a history of being shot to hell by his shitty judgment in women, Faceman keeps flubbing his come-on lines, and B.A. Baracus is a nearly mute guy with a high-powered sniper rifle.
The attitude this film takes toward its inspiration actually makes me that much more tense at watching the actual, Official A-Team Remake (but not a remake because Joe Carnahan is a touchy sumbitch about that).

5)      Yay, TV! – Again, it might be the fact that this movie should not be, but I like movies that save on budget by hiring TV actors. It means we get Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Idris Elba as headliners.  As a “Supernatural” and “The Wire” fan, I am on board.

Okay. So now, if you want to watch an action movie in the next few months, The Losers will likely fill all of your requirements. Go forth.

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