Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Losers: Inconsequential Fun At Its Best

As a new fan of The Losers, which I picked up specifically so I'd be properly prepped for the film adaptation, out today, I was nervous, but hopeful, about Sylvain White's take on the Diggle/Jock collaboration. But just a few minutes into the opening sequence and I was sold. Light on emotional involvement, but heavy on light shoot-em-up fun, The Losers is a solid good time at the movies.

Beginning with the event that propels the Losers into the adventure that opens the comic, we see right off the bat that true, this is no frame for frame remake, but thank goodness for that fact. White's adaptation manages to turn the first volume of The Losers into a concise, well told, easy to follow tale, while losing none of the high octane action or proper development of the characters. If anything, we get to know the presumed dead crew even more in the film than we do during the read of the first volume and feel more connected to them as a unit thanks to the fantastic chemistry all six actors have with each other. Loving the characters so much on the page, it was a true delight to see them interacting in the flesh with such familiarity & ease.

There's Clay, played stoically and sexily (just me? nomnom) by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the leader, who has no one and nothing but his Losers, Idris Elba's intimidating explosives expert, Rouqe, the last guy on the face of the planet you'd ever want to get into a disagreement with, Pooch, played with an undeniable sweetness by Columbus Short, the lighthearted transportation specialist with the most to lose, Cougar, the silent but deadly sniper (with only about 4 lines, Oscar Jaenada manages to make Cougar possibly more captivating & intriguing than any other character) and Jensen, the tech guy, played masterfully by Chris Evans with spot on comic timing, who goes through enough geek t-shirts to clothe an army. The x factor in the group is Zoe Saldana's Aisha, the badass who may or may not have a heart, who comes to the Losers with a mission that, should they choose to accept it, may save the world, but also may result in an early experation date for them all...and also may be a crock of shit to begin with.

The script does a nice job of adding enough elements to keep the suspense alive for readers of the comic without straying too far from the story and only dips into the cheese in one or two, blink and you miss it, moments.

That is, unless we're dealing with the main villain of the story, Max, played by Jason Patric doing his best Nic Cage impression. Or maybe that was just me wishing it was Cage chewing the scenery instead. Patric's attempt is a brave one, very hit or miss, unfortunately, for me, it was mostly a miss. His Max is almost...too creepy, too without a care, too glib, too mean. He comes across less an actual villain and more a troubled guy playing dress up. The elements for genius are all there - ridiculous lines (including one jab at an unusually short business partner which is one of the few moments that works for Patric), an unexplained scarred left hand, constantly covered by a glove, and a bridging on non-sensical quest for world domination and gosh does Patric try to do the part justice. Instead, most of his scenes are, simply put, cringe-worthy. I found myself just wishing they'd cut back to the Losers themselves as quickly as possible. But Patric really is the only weak link in terms of performances.

The actors, perfectly cast to such a degree that their resemblence to the drawn figures is almost frightening, totally embody their characters. My personal favorite was Chris Evans. Jensen is easily the most quotable of the film and I could do nothing but smile every time he opened his mouth. Or dropped his pants. ... You'll see. I am now somehow even more excited for his turn as Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim this summer, which, let me tell you, I didn't think was possible.

Overall, the film is fun, cool, often hilarious, at times nail-bitting and a wholly good time at the movies. Granted, I never felt particularly...emotionally connected to anything in the film, which is what prevents it from crossing over from good to great, but I also didn't miss it very much. Not every movie can be genre-elevating and that's okay with me. The Losers is a well done adaptation of a solid comic and a guaranteed enjoyable movie going experience. Chris Evans alone is worth the price of admission, but luckily you also get 5 other top notch performances, a lot of great action, and if you haven't read the comic, hopefully you'll walk away with the impetus to pick up the first volume.

Grade: B

Other Losers related posts:
Coverage of Wondercon Panel, from Loquaciousmuse
Interview with the cast at Wondercon, from Eruditechick