Monday, April 26, 2010

I’m a Loser, Baby, So Why Don’t You Kill Me? – The Losers

"The Losers" is an ultra-stylized action flick that feels destined to end up on Spike someday. Based on a graphic novel and feeling like a video game (see the headline above), "The Losers" will satisfy those who are looking for a decent testosterone-filled thrill ride.

Everything about this film has "Guy Movie" written all over it, including lots of guns, constant violence, gratuitous bikini-clad chicks just standing around, and (I am not making this up) a scene in which a tightly-dressed uber babe shoots a rocket launcher into a group of exploding cars, all in slow motion. After the movie I felt like I should have a beer, or at least a Mountain Dew.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy it in places, but a lot of this movie felt like guilty pleasure material.

"The Losers" stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clay, leader of a squad of wisecracking special forces, including hacker goofball Jensen (Chris Evans), vehicle man Pooch (Columbus Short), scarred second-in-command Roque (Idris Elba), and sniper extraordinaire Cougar (Oscar Jaenada).

As the movie opens, Clay's mission is to take out a drug dealer in Bolivia. But then the mission goes south, and Clay and his squad are betrayed and left for dead (well, sorta. You'll see).

After this, he meets Aisha (Zoe Saldana, whom you may have seen "Star Trek" and, to a much lesser extent, "Avatar"), a beautiful and enigmatic woman with an offer: she gets them back into the States, and they find their old leader for some payback.

From there, the movie's wheels start a-turning and we are treated to one quip-filled, hyper-edited action sequence after another, punctuated by scenes of villainy from Max (Jason Patric), a dirty CIA operative who gnashes his teeth and seems like a combination of Steve Carrell and Keyser Söze.

"The Losers" has style coming out the yin-yang, with bright colors, swaggering characters, and the aforementioned slow motion shots. The characters' back-and-forth banter during the missions help keep the film feeling light, and at a scant 98 minutes, the movie doesn't over-stay its welcome (though the ending all but promises a sequel).

This is a stylish guy movie for people who like stylish guy movies, and there's not much here to convert those who aren't into this sort of thing, but there are two reasons I would hoist this movie over a couple others in its genre (though it still doesn't quite touch my favorite summer throwaway action movie, "S.W.A.T.").

First is the squad-based nature of Clay's team. My favorite element of heist movies like "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Italian Job" is watching each character using their specialty work in concert, and this film takes the same sort of approach; the hacker hacks, the driver drives, and the sniper shoots people from like a mile away (seriously, Oscar Jaenada is channeling some Man With No Name action here).

Second is Chris Evans as Jensen. In addition to being a good reason to convince your girlfriend to see this movie with you (it worked for "Fantastic Four," right?), Evans brings a manic, quirky energy that livens up the picture whenever he's onscreen. From him came my favorite scene in which he belts out a falsetto rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" while waiting for an elevator (the movie has some seriously excellent treatment of that song, in fact).

While not a revelation in action movies, "The Losers" has enough stylish gunplay and comedic dialogue to make it a decent night at the movies. Those looking for a bit of substance with their popcorn won't find it here, but for those wanting a literal bang for their buck will get it in spades.

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