The Losers

Zoe Saldana in a cowboy hat.
"Anyone Else Would Be Dead By Now."

Welcome back to the Tagline! Today I'll be talking about a film I saw a couple years back that I feel really didn't get noticed, the vertigo comic based The Losers. The movie follows a group of special forces operatives burned by the mysterious CIA spook "Max" as they attempt to get revenge and clear their names. This more or less follows the premise of the comics, albeit in a movie shortened fashion.  The Losers stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who I recently talked about in The Possession) as Clay, who is the team's leader. Supporting cast include Zoe Saldana as Aisha (Her best known role was probably as Uhura in the Star Trek remake) and Chris Evans as Jensen (You are probably familiar with him, he was most recently Captain America in The Avengers). The team travels from Bolivia to the U.S. where they perform a variety of dangerous, suicidal, and very illegal operations all in an attempt to find Max, so that they can kill him. Max meanwhile has his own plans, and is attempting to use next generation weapons of mass destruction to start a war, in order to influence world events and 'steer the world back on track'. You know, your typical megalomania villain fare.
Real American heroes... except Aisha, she's from Pakistan?

The film takes a light approach, never taking itself too seriously despite the fact that most of the movie involves a lot of people being killed (Not to mention a helicopter full of children at one point spoiler alert). This is a movie based on a comic book, and it aims to behave that way. So while you won't be treated to The Dark Knight here, you will be entertained with snappy comedic flair amidst gunfights and explosions. The movie does nothing in halves, and clocks in just shy of a Tarantino flick in terms of its over-the-top behavior (Zoe and Jeffrey beat each other up in a burning hotel room for instance). Tarantino actually said he enjoyed the movie (admittedly even he referred to it as "dumb fun") so that is somewhat telling.

I'm sorry I threatened to cut your head off.
I'll admit, the story itself is nothing special. The Losers received mixed reviews from critics, and tended slightly towards the negative (it sits at the top of the rotten bracket on RT with 47% positive reviews). The extremely simplistic and let's face it, unoriginal plot was the most commonly criticized element of the movie. Most reviews, even the negative, admit that the movie stars a cast of talent performers, who portray likable characters (and I'll come back to that in a second) but their disdain for the plot overshadowed that. What I'll argue here though is that in this case, likable characters and enjoyable action can and should be enough. I don't mean that we should encourage lazy story telling or cliched plots, but I think this movie is the best version of itself. It's important to remember that this is adapting a comic. If the comic happens to read like the premises of a dozen other action movies, well the screenwriter can't be faulted for that. They took what they had to work with, and made it into an exciting, and entertaining piece of media. Given the circumstances I would not ask for more than that. Sure I wasn't asking any profound questions about the human condition, but really who wants to do that all day when they can watch people getting blown up and Chris Evans singing Journey? No one is who (His performance as Jensen is really one of the highlights of the movie, he is a funny man).

Don't stop, believing.
The movie was also compared unfavorably to the A-Team remake which was released later in the year, and I find that interesting considering that most critics didn't especially care for that either (and I thought it was just not as good of a movie). The A-Team was the same tired premise, I just found it not quite as funny as The Losers, and lacking some of the comic flare that The Losers really worked to its advantage (see liberal use of improbable action and explosions juxtaposed with humor). Unfortunately, while The A-Team managed to gross decently despite lukewarm reviews, The Losers did not, managing to scrape together a feeble 29 million dollars against an estimated budget of 25 million. Still, if you are among the many who didn't catch this, I'd recommend giving it a watch. It's a nice way to while away a few hours.

That's it for today! Join me on Saturday when I get us into a spooky October mood with my 5 favorite movies about mean spirits!
Casper is not on the list. He's a friendly ghost! Who sucked!

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