A strong combination of the good parts of other, better action films
A good way to describe The Losers is via other action films. It has the style of The Matrix, the strong chemistry of Predator, a villain frothing at the mouth ala The Professional and the sort of manic energy in a comic book movie that Iron Man had. Unfortunately that’s exactly what The Losers feels like: a combination of the best parts of other, better films.
It’s a relatively straight forward film “men on a mission” style action film. Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) leads a special operations team of uniquely skilled operatives. Jensen (Chris Evans) is a motor-mouth technology expert, Pooch (Columbus Short) is the group’s wheelman and mechanic, Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) is a magician with a sniper’s rifle and Roque (Idris Elba) is his second in command. Down in Bolivia on a mission that goes astray, the team is set up for death after saving schoolchildren from certain doom. Escaping it, the team has one goal in mind: revenge on Max (Jason Patric), the man pulling the strings. When the mysterious Aisha (Zoe Saldana) makes them an offer they can’t refuse, the team comes back to their home country to take their lives back by killing the seemingly untouchable Max.
As a concept, The Losers is not exactly familiar. There have been and always will be a place in action films for individuals wanting to take revenge for something. It’s a staple of the genre for obvious reasons but Sylvain White takes it and gives it something more than just pure genre goodness; he injects a sense of style into what could be an otherwise perfunctory action film. There’s a style and a coolness to it that keeps it from being anything but boring; certain framed shots and slow motion shots break up what could be monotonous and give it a great style all its own. It’s also ridiculously over the top while maintaining an intense seriousness, giving it a certain fun to it that the genre has been lacking.
It’s certainly engrossing and it doesn’t hurt that he has a great cast that works well together. The six main members of the film aren’t strangers to the concept of the ensemble film and as such they have a great chemistry with one another. It makes the film that much more interesting when a cast works well together as opposed to being purely photogenic with one another; the film is that much more interesting because they work well together on screen. The way they interact with one another keeps the film lively and interesting when it otherwise wouldn’t be. The way they interact, especially during the action sequences, is definitely worth it. But it’s Jason Patric that completely steals the film.
Patric strikes just the right note for the film, which is completely over the top. Max is supposed to be a Keyser Soze type in the American intelligence community, able to command incalculable resources from across the spectrum, and Patric doesn’t just chew on scenery. He devours it wholesale, taking what would be a run of the mill villain and making him so completely over the top evil that it’s fun to watch. It’s perfect with the tone of the film, as Max isn’t some dark character leaping into the shadows. He’s a suit clad killer who worries more about overkill when it comes to intimidation as opposed to the fact that someone is dead; it makes the film that much more fun because this guy is such a despicable villain that watching the revenge feels much more satisfying then it normally is.
But the problem the film has is that it feels like it was collected from other films and just duplicated. There’s not a lot of new or original moments in the film; just a collection of other parts in other films that have already worked. White gives it energy and style that breathes a different life into the material but it’s still cribbing from other, better films. The Losers ends up being a fun, if significantly flawed film.
Director: Sylvain White Notable Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Columbus Short, Idris Elba, Jason Patric, Oscar Jaenada Writer(s): Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt based off the comic book series “The Losers” by Andy Diggle