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Another weekend, another comic book adaptation hits the big screen. But just like “Kick-Ass”, “The Losers” doesn’t disappoint. It’s an action movie experience with enough explosions and humor to keep things going even through your second box of popcorn. This is a repeat view candidate, with all the fun and adventure that adaptations offer when they’re at their best.
Meet the Losers: Col. Frankin Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the enigmatic leader who wants justice regardless of the physical and financial cost; second-in-command William Roque (Idris Elba), who just might cut you; computer support specialist, Jake Jensen (Chris Evans); Linwood “Pooch” Porteous (Columbus Short), the self-described “black MacGyver”; and Carlos “Cougar” Alvarez (Óscar Jaenada), a silent but deadly sharpshooter. The Losers are their own breed – the best out there – and as we’re introduced to each character, a freeze-frame, comic book-style illustration reminds us what we’re dealing with.
Based on the graphic novel by DC Comics imprint Vertigo, the Losers are a U.S. Special Forces team burned by their handler, Max (Jason Patric), after disobeying an order to accept collateral damage on a covert mission. Thought dead, this five-man squad tries to live out their lives abroad, going unnoticed by the all-seeing eye of American intelligence. But Franklin doesn’t enjoy life after war, so he’s all too willing to jump at the mysterious Aisha’s (Zoë Saldana) offer to get them back to the states, just as long as they kill Max. With a new financier and a desire to get back their old lives, the Losers embark on the end-all mission that will test their resolve.
This is see-it-again-and-again entertainment. Of course, the critics are a buzz with fantastic wordplay on how it lives up to its name. Sadly, such responses remind me of those times film experts forget to enjoy the material they’re paid to view. “The Losers” is a popcorn flick that does it right, old material with a fresh twist. Cool gadgets, big explosions, and twice the wit of the average shoot ‘em up—sorry, Bruce Willis and Jason Statham, you just got served. Comic books are a great source for raw material that doesn’t feel as contrived as the other schlock out there. Sure, there have been plenty of bad comic book films, but the failure tends to be rooted in a lack of vision in the adaptation process, not weaknesses in source material.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this level of spot-on casting. Evans shines despite previous flops like “Fantastic Four” and “Push”; perhaps the key was proper direction and better material. As average computer geek who basks in his own awkwardness, he steals the show. It will be nice to see what Evans does at the Sentinel of Liberty in the upcoming “Captain America”, a film that will mark his sixth appearance in the comic book adaptation genre.
Saldana is back, but if you’re hoping she kept the blue tail from “Avatar” you’re out of luck. In “The Losers”, she is allowed the freedom to be an action star without an identity rooted in her relationship with the male lead. Short’s turn as Pooch results in a fantastic action hero and inventor, who remains emotionally grounded in his need to get home and meet his newborn. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, another familiar face to comic book films (the Comedian in “Watchmen”), once again proves that he’s someone to look out for in Hollywood. Always solid in his small yet significant body of work, this guy’s gold on the screen with a charming confidence and rugged exterior that are hard to ignore.
By all accounts, “The Losers” looks like a movie you could miss, but it’s actually a sampler of the summer blockbusters to come. It’s got me convinced that all the other action films this year will fail by comparison.
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