The Losers (2010) – in your face, over the top

As long as there are comic books that haven’t been adapted (or adapted successfully) to big screen, we’ll be regularly  assaulted with over-the-top, self-aware, tongue-in-cheek, archetypal, good vs. evil, paper-thin stories. Most of comic book culture revolves around fallen heroes, and every once in a while a movie is made that perfectly translates that comic book tone into a film. Everything is life or death, everyone has a specific role, nothing is as it seems and almost nothing has any consequence or logic. On a rare occasion, an action film can successfully subvert tired cliches. The Loses manages to do that, keep a straight face with its characterization, and still look good in the process. It’s just fun to watch.

The film came out of nowhere back in spring, did a little business at the box office, and is now making a killing on DVD/Netflix. Understandable, since things like that really do get better after second viewing. Not that there’s too many plot twists or unanswered questions. Quite the opposite, the less you think about why things are happening, the more you can sit back and enjoy how they happen. This film doesn’t have the self-importance of Matrix, or the gloom of The Watchmen. It doesn’t go too far with music-video montages of 300 (although these did have a good look to them). It just gives you solid action, a great team of mercs, an obligatory damsel in distress, and a really over-the-top bad guy. Jason Patrick doesn’t do a lot of splashy roles, but in this one – he’s just so deliciously evil. He even wears a glove on one hand – find out why about 1hr into the film.

The plot, briefly: a team of mercs – who have obviously failed at an important mission (that was the opening sequence) is blacklisted, and is trying to get to the person who fucked them over. Problem is, as good as they are, they really don’t see the obligatory betrayals, and u-turns, so their attempt to bring down the nemesis fails. So does their plan B. Hence ‘the losers’, get it. However, their persistence keep them going again and again, in multiple iterations of the same heist formula: get to the guy who fucked us over, get his valuables/leverage, kill him in process.

All this is accompanied by amazing action scenes, in-jokes, genuine chemistry between the characters, and even though the ‘damsel’ is an archetype, she plays it well. Peter Berg is one of the screenwriters, and the dark, manly humor that was the main attraction in Very Bad Things, and Friday Night Lights is very much present here. Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have a a starched white shirt every morning, regardless of previous night’s shenanigans. Chris Evans is hilarious as the tech geek (Marshall from Alias, only with a 6-pack) and Idris Elba is great as the voice of reason in all this action mayhem.

It’s fun, good-looking and not offensive to logic and rules of physics. Although, they certainly are walking the line. Catch The Losers today:

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