Thursday, 28 August 2014

Losers. Assemble.

The Losers:  The Ultimate Review.
Every once in a while a group of people, several countries apart, will all band together in online conversation and debate.  The topic of choice today is the 2010 film The Losers.  I want you all to sit back, strap in and prepare yourself for not just one but FOUR reviews of a film you had probably forgotten about long, long ago. 
Opening the show we have the lovely Cindy Prascik.  Cindy and I have been discussing movies since Myspace (google it children).  The debate does branch out from film and there has been many a philosophical discussion about the attractiveness of the male and various female forms. 
"Dearest Blog, with this entry I shall claim membership in one of the world's most exclusive clubs: People Who Love the Losers.
Spoiler level here will be off the charts, because you've had four years to catch up with this. If you haven’t seen it yet, read no more until you have! (But, seriously, what are you waiting for??)
After being framed for mass murder in Bolivia, an elite Special Forces team hooks up with a seductive con artist to clear their names and get back home to the U.S.
Dear reader(s), you know me well, do you not? I like testosterone-fueled action flicks. Bonus points if they're based on comic books. Double bonus points if they make me laugh, too. The Losers ticks all the boxes for me.
Let's start with this gifted and gorgeous cast, shall we? The leader of our merry band of misfits is Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Haunted by betrayal and the resulting loss of young life, he is single-mindedly bent on revenge against Max, the mysterious man who set up his team. Roque (the dashing Idris Elba) is a headstrong demolitions expert who often questions Clay's leadership. Communications specialist Jensen (Chris Evans) and transportation coordinator Pooch (Columbus Short) trade insults and provide the movie's best comic relief. Finally, there's Cougar (Ơscar Jaenada), a sniper whose silent charm nearly steals the whole show. Aisha (the glorious and perfect Zoe Saldana) is a local woman who offers her assistance to the team...but with her own agenda, of course. The cast is rounded out by an amusingly deadpan Jason Patrick as Max, and Holt McCallany as Max' clueless right-hand man, Wade.
The Losers features non-stop action from the outset. There's a fair bit of carnage, but the tone is mostly light...quite an achievement considering the movie opens with 25 kids getting blown up. An early hotel-room fight between Morgan and Saldana is hotter than most sex scenes. There's a nice comic feel to the film, with beginning and ending credits done in comic book-style art, and changes of venue announced in big, sweeping lettering. The movie keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with plenty of twists, turns, and double-crosses, and, at a quick 97 minutes, it's smart enough not to wear out its welcome. Three specifics I feel are noteworthy in the annals of movie history: Wade's spectacular death by airplane engine, Zoe Saldana wielding a bazooka (*swoon*), and Chris Evans showboating his way through an a capella version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. Finally, The Losers reiterates the age-old movie message that nothing--and I mean NOTHING--good ever happens around those dockside container yards.
The Losers clocks in at 97 minutes, and is rated PG13 for "sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality, and language."
I took a peek at my original Losers review after writing this one. While I hadn't yet adopted the Weasley rating system at that time, I hit pretty much all the same notes as this one, minus the spoilers. In 2014, of a possible nine Weasleys, I'm pleased to give The Losers eight. It's a wild ride with an eminently likable cast and plenty of laughs along the way, and I remain so, so sorry there isn't a Losers 2 on the horizon.
Until next time...GO PETUNIAS!
Ready for Black Friday at Wal-Mart!!

Next up we have our resident Random Mexican Daniel Hernandez.  Daniel is another Myspace alum and together with Cindy we safely made the pilgrimage onto facebook .  As a general rule our cinema rotation is similar so whenever our opinions on a film are at opposite ends of the scale it always makes me doubt what I have written in my own review.


"My original review of The Losers gave it a B- which should probably have been closer to a C or C+.  I honestly can’t contest any of the myriad of issues the film, Jason Patric, has or it’s unfortunate release date that placed it near a better film with roughly the same concept.  Still, there’s something about this silly movie that makes it utterly watchable.  Easiest answer is the cast.  Jeffery Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana have some great chemistry together each bringing the right amount of cool to the characters.  I’m still a tad bit perplexed that Jeffery Dean Morgan isn’t more of a star, he’s got a gruff kind of charm to him that translates well on screen.  Saldana meanwhile seems to have just resigned herself to working behind makeup or via motion capture.  Personally I think with the right material she could be an incredible action star which is kind of impressive since she probably weighs about 90 pounds soaking wet.  Chris Evans may not be believable as a computer hacker but the guy has always had some great comedic timing.  I always kind of thought Evans was destined for superstardom ever since Not Another Teen Movie so it’s fun to look back before he hit it big with the Captain America role.  Round out the cast with Idris Elba, who probably should have been the actual villain instead of Patrick, and you have a film filled with lots of solid actors making a subpar film watchable in spite of itself. 

It is now Maynard's time to shine.  Despite being a post-Myspace friend Maynard has become my go to horror movie guy and is a deservedly prolific blogger.  He does slum it from time to time and takes one for the team as we are about to find out with his less than positive review of our subject film.
"At minute 36, this is what two of the main characters say to each other:
"This is a classic." - "Yeah, this is a classic piece of shit."
Okay, they're actually talking about a car, and no, I don't think that "The Losers" is a classic piece of shit, but... *sigh* IMHO it's definitely a classic piece of lame, lousy, loserish cookie-cutter action rubbish.

Based on the DC comic book series of the same name (that I obviously have never heard of before), "The Losers" follows a group of black-ops mercenaries who plan their revenge on their former employers who betrayed them and set them up for death. Sounds like a lot like "The A-Team", huh? Well, actually it's more like "Ronin" meets "The Expendables", and of course, the original 1970s "Losers" comics
were created long before the "A-Team" TV series.

Nevertheless, the box office failure of "The Losers" (Ha Ha!) can definitely be blamed on a) Joe Carnahan's 2010 feature adaptation of "The A-Team" which was released shortly after, as well as to b) the still-massive popularity of the "A-Team" brand. Even though it performed below expectations, "The A-Team" (which was released in June 2010) earned about 180 millions world wide (Domestic: 77 millions), while "The Losers" earned only about 29 millions worldwide (Domestic: 23 millions).

I unexpectedly enjoyed the hell out of "The A-Team" and I consider it one of the better action-related films of the last few years - but "The Losers" annoyed the crap outta me. My goodness, now this was really poor. I already gave up after the opening: oh-so-tough-and-cool guys playing silly card games and dropping mom jokes, Ram Jam's "Black Betty" (what an original song choice... yawn), a helicopter full of kids explodes (I don't like kids), a burning Teddy bear (boo hoo), cock-fighting etc. Director Sylvain White ("I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer") just can't decide between
fun popcorn movie, grim revenge thriller, over-the-top comic-book insanity or action-drama . Tone and script are all over the place. The characters aren't likable at all...

...and that's just the first 15 minutes.

I have no idea how I made it through the goddamn rest. No idea how I survived Jason Patric ("The Lost Boys") as one of the worst and most unbearable movie villains in history, or Chris Evans ("Captain America") as unbelievably unfunny prankster, saying lines like "These Hot Dogs are delicious!" in a way as if he has never eaten a Hot Dog before. There's tiring amounts of oh-so-cool slow-motion sequences, oh-so-comic-book-like overlaid text and other annoying, unnecessary gimmicks that seem to be in the film only to distract the viewer, so that he doesn't realize how stupid the whole thing it is. There's also hardly any tension, hardly any atmosphere, way too many super-dull dialogue scenes, some really bad choices of music (I fucking hate Journey), the action scenes are rather uninspired and the screenplay is a fucking mess. There is no flow, no coherence. Just a succession of scenes strung together in a... let's say, quite haphazard manner.

Hottie Zoë Saldana and the cool-as-always Idris Elba deliver solid performances, same for Jeffrey Dean Morgan, though I think he's miscast and not exactly the best choice for this role. A few of the more action-packed scenes were quite enjoyable (like the one with the helicopter or the rather diverting finale) and although I hated Jason Patric's character, I chuckled at him saying "It's like giving a handgun to a six-year-old - you don't know how it's gonna end, but you're pretty sure it's gonna make the papers."

Yet, overall, this was sooo not my cup of tea. "The Losers" lost me early on and I spent the majority of its run time in a state of annoyment."

On another day I would be tempted to say that Maynard doth protest too much but alas I do appreciate where he is coming from.  This is one of those ridiculous situations were I agree with Maynard but then go on ahead and pretend otherwise.  If you have lasted this long then well done you.  Last and most certainly least are my own musings on The Losers:
"The Losers appeared on our screens in the summer of 2010 and although it did not set the Box Office on fire it has been regular in my 90min DVD rotation.  This is probably a backhanded comment when you learn what else is in the rotation.
I have been called out as a lazy blogger in the past and it is a fair statement.  The depth of my laziness runs much deeper than that as I am also a ridiculously lazy film viewer too. This is why a film like The Losers gets so much attention from me.
PLOT:  After a helicopter full of children are killed during a covert mission in Bolivia “The Losers” led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Clay try to find the Max, (Jason Patric) the man who is responsible for their deaths.  Their mission is funded by the mysterious Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who also wants to kill Max.  The group tracks Max down in LA as he is about to buy four snukes from a group of terrorists.  END PLOT
The Losers is based on a set of graphic novels written by Andy Diggle which I read prior to seeing the film.  The novels are thoroughly entertaining and should have easily made the jump from book to screen especially when Peter Berg, a favourite of mine, is involved.  Alas, something didn’t quite work out. 
The original novels were for adults.  There was bad language, blood, humour, death and sex.  The films were watered down to a 12A and lost most of the key ingredients which would have set it apart from The A Team which was also released that summer.  The 12A rating does the film no favours and the attempts to make the characters rating friendly make them almost unrecognisable – there is a throwaway line about Aisha’s childhood ear collection but this ear collection is actually a big part of Aisha’s dangerous and let’s face it, slightly deranged, character.
All of the characters are underdeveloped but do tick off the list of stereotypes required to make an ensemble action flick – we have the leader (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the love interest (Zoe Saldana), the computer geek (Chris Evans), the driver/MacGyver (Columbus Short), the silent sniper (Oscar Jaenada) and the betrayer (Idris Elba).  The characters may be weak but the cast do have chemistry which helps to cover over the flaws. 
Any film with Chris Evans will draw me in but in 2010 there was interest in Jeffrey Dean Morgan who was still on a high after his brilliant performance as The Comedian in Watchmen and we must not forget his tenure as “parent of the year” John Winchester.  It has not gone unnoticed that Morgan’s career has stalled and some of the supporting cast have gone on to become major A-List success. 
Unfortunately one thing the chemistry of the cast could not hide was the awful Max (Jason Patric).  Max’s danger came from his calculating intelligence but Jason Patric overacted like crazy and turned Max into a cartoon character.  Patric appeared to be aiming for confident business villain but it was all a bit handbags at dawn.
Max’s evil deeds include shooting an umbrella lady in the head and laughing at a really short man but his main plot thread involves buying four snukes from terrorists for a shitload of money and a Ducati.  I could be staring down the barrel of a snuke or “giant vibrating Easter Egg from hell” and I still couldn’t take my impending death seriously.  On paper snukes may seem more original than nuclear or chemical weapons but on the big screen it simply doesn’t work.  It doesn’t help that “Four Snukes and a Ducati” sounds more threatening as the latest hipster band than the terms of an illegal arms deal.
The action is standard fare but appropriate for the rating.  Instead of seeing the burning bodies of twenty kidnapped children we see a singed bear.  This pretty much sums up the film.  It was a wasted opportunity. 
I know The Losers is an average film, and worse than that, it is a poor adaptation of a legitimately good set of graphic novels.  There will be those who see the film as a mess that more often than not misses the mark and I won’t be able to launch into a staunch defence of The Losers as I agree with them.  On its own merits The Losers gets 5/10.
As mentioned above I can be a very lazy film viewer especially when it comes to choosing a DVD.  I don’t apologise for picking generic 90min films when I have had a hard day.  We all do it.  The Losers fits that bill perfectly which is why I thank it for being familiar, comforting and for not requiring too much attention or effort.  On the basis of me having a bad Tuesday The Losers gets 8/10."
To sum up; The Losers can either be loved, hated or viewed with a sense of nostalgia for a cast that have gone on to experience huge levels of success (unless your name is Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  It can also be viewed by a permanently single female who is likely to be rapped up in a blanket gnawing away at a bar of chocolate the size of a brick. 
We are the Four Horsemen of Occasional Collaboration.......Until next time..............


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