A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Hey, LOSERS! (When good guys go bad, Part 1)

In action, comic books on April 20, 2010 at 1:51 am

This year is going to see at least three movies featuring renegade soldiers/men of action fighting back against corrupt governments (ours or others) and villainous villains with henchmen that are like one of the heroes, only less “cuddly” (hint: the hero they usually refer to isn’t that cuddly). In the next few months, hopefully I’ll get to talk about each one, but for now…

The first one to hit the big screen will be the DC Comics/VERTIGO imprint adaptation, THE LOSERS. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana and Jason Patric, the movie opens on this “rag-tag” group of elite soldiers betting weapons and playing card games. One guy puts a giant knife on the table, then he puts another. Then they’re called to action; they see a messed up situation and go off mission – which leads to innocents getting killed and they’re left holding the bag, so to speak.

With nick-names like Cougar, Pooch and Roque (or maybe that’s his name, like Jensen and Clay), you know that this team is going to set the wrongs in the world right, and find out who the mysterious Max is; the man that gave them the mission to begin with. Unfortunately, while the movie hits all the right beats of slo-mo action/sex scenes/other action; and is really cool – the self-awareness of how cool it’s trying to be actually makes the movie kind of boring. Don’t get me wrong there are some great, and funny, moments (mostly all revolving around either Chris Evans or Jason Patric), but in the end I kind of just didn’t care for it.

Which is a shame, because this was one of the comic-book adaptations coming out this year that I; A. have read and enjoyed; B. really enjoy all the actors involved – well, those I know. The movie quite effectively uses illustrations in the style of the series’ artist Jock, in the opening and closing credits. From what I remember the pop-culturey, hip-coolness factor was in writer Andy Diggle’s version of the comics, but unfortunately that stuff falls flat when presented with real people. Some of the better moments of the movie, are mostly in the various trailers – if only slightly added upon; like the great moment of Evan’s Jensen being surrounded by guards and he points his fingers at them and a sniper from the next building over shoots each one as Jensen motions with his hands that he’s pulling the trigger. In the trailer this was awesome; in the movie it’s even more-so, because it’s set to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”…Okay, well, that might not sound cool, but it is.

Anyway, the rest of the cast, Cougar – played pretty well by Oscar Jaenada – mostly speaks through his long-range rifle. He’s fun and it’s never bad to be cast as the silent, badass member of the team. Columbus Short, who plays Pooch – the “driver” of the group – is given a great moment at the end of the movie. Idris Elba gets to once again put on an American accent and a scar across his eye. Morgan, who seems to not only like comic book movies, but ones where he gets to beat up women, is serviceable here. His character is pretty flat and acts stupidly for no particular reason, a number of times. Saldana, hot off her STAR TREK/AVATAR/everything else celebrity is also kind of wasted here. And it’s actually her casting where my nerd alerts went off – because in the comic, the character Aisha, was middle-eastern and I just would have liked to see someone other than Saldana (as great as she is) cast in the role. Here, she’s reduced to a plot contrivance, generic love interest and amazingly enough, deus ex machina during the climax. (That’s probably a spoiler, but…it won’t matter.)

I feel like the blame for this movie kind of lays in the hands of the screen-writers, as it’s the story that’s really weak. It’s sort of like Peter Berg (director of HANCOCK and THE KINGDOM) and James Vanderbilt (ZODIAC) wrote in all the great action scenes and awesome one-line bits of dialogue and just said, “oh, we’re done.” Director, Sylvain White (STOMP THE YARD) films those scenes and bits of dialogue interestingly enough, but it’s just hollow.

I sat watching this movie saying, “that should be awesome.” But, I just didn’t feel it. Oh well. I’d say it’s probably worth a watch – in that same way that CLASH OF THE TITANS was, but so far, disappointed in my “rogue men of action” movie.

Next up, THE A-TEAM…

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