Anyone Else Would Be Dead By Now: The Losers is a tale of double cross and revenge centered upon the members of an elite U.S. Special Forces unit sent into the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team-Clay, Jensen, Roque, Pooch and Cougar -find themselves the target of a lethal betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Presumed dead, the group makes plans to even the score when the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda, joins them. Working together, they must remain deep undercover while tracking the heavily guarded Max, a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war.
That’s the official Warner Brothers synopsis for the movie The Losers, which stars among others, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans and Jason Patric. It is based on characters in a graphic novel created by Andy Diggle and illustrated by Jocko. I have to admit right now, I’ve never read the graphic novels and so going into the screening of this action movie I knew absolutely nothing about the story of these four men and the lovely, mysterious Aisha, other than they were being played by actors I enjoy seeing on screen and that they were on a mission of revenge. I came out of the screening not only wanting to immediately see The Losers again, but with high anticipation for the sequel that surely has to be forthcoming.
The screenplay for The Losers was written by Peter Berg and Jamie Vanderbilt who also wrote the screenplay for The Rundown, which is one of my favorite action movies. The Losers has the same high octane pace as The Rundown and a lot of the same kind of humor that I think keeps the movie at a level where parents will feel comfortable taking their older children to see it (or their older parents). One thing that I think the writers and director Sylvain White did with The Losers that really makes it stand out is they harken things back to a time in Hollywood where leading men and women didn’t necessarily need to be seen nude to convey sexuality or sensuality.
There is one fight scene in The Losers between the unit leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Aisha (Zoe Saldana) that presents an equality to the characters and shows a respect for each other even in a combative situation that generates the same kind of sensual heat as a sexy tango and both actors convey that sensuality while fully clothed.
More and more, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is gaining the kind of ‘old Hollywood’ type screen presence and charisma as once held by the likes of Clark Gable. I believe that is far more appealing and requires more talent—something that Jeffrey Dean Morgan has plenty of. Zoe Saldana is not only talented as well, but she also has a grace and strength that makes her an equal on the screen to Morgan and gives her character a presence that raises it far above any exploitive ‘Bond Girl’ kind of role this could have easily turned into.
I know The Losers is billed as an action movie and has some comedic aspects, but if it had just been a straightforward actioner, I don’t think I would have been as impressed with it as I was. For me, while the story being told is fun to watch, it has some lag places and some weak points that wouldn’t have been nearly so entertaining if the movie didn’t have such a strong cast of players in the key roles. For me the main enjoyment of watching The Losers was all about the characters who had actors in the roles that made them rise above being cookie cutter, generic, action movie clichés.
As much as I liked Morgan’s strong and tough-as-nails character of Central Control, by the end of the movie my favorite character, and the one who won my heart, was Communications Specialist Jensen, played by Chris Evans. Whereas Clay was more the straightforward romantic action hero lead, Jensen was a character that moved fluidly between being the comedic sidekick to the straightforward action hero as well. Evans, with his physicality and talent and the writer’s savvy dialogue, combined to give Jensen depth and courage to go along with his intelligence. My third favorite character was Cougar, the Weapons Specialist, played by Oscar Jaenada who was absolutely perfect in this role as the quiet spoken sharpshooter. Columbus Short as Pooch, the Transportation Specialist of the team, rounds out my favorite list. Short took on the character’s blend of humor and humanity and made it believable.
As I said, all the cast stood out in their roles in The Losers and Jason Patric as the ‘right out of a Bond movie’ villainous Max played the role with the kind of deadpan comedic timing that makes a character like this stand out and not devolve into a cartoon type caricature. I especially liked the interplay between Max and his second-in-command Wade played by Holt McCallany. The two actors and the writers gave the banter between these characters a sort of ‘Pinky and the Brain’ kind of dynamic that kept their scenes interesting.
I liked the fact that Clay and his unit weren’t hardened, over the top macho men yet conveyed masculine strength. I liked that they had emotions and gentler sides to them that the writers and the director weren’t afraid to explore or use to further the plot of The Losers. What I didn’t care for was some of the more ‘artsy’ type camera work that tried to do the whole ‘comic book’ effect that failed to be effective, as in movies like Ang Lee’s The Hulk. In my opinion, this detracted from the action taking place in The Losers.
Yet all in all this was a great ‘popcorn movie’ so let’s get on with the sequel already ‘cause I definitely want to see more of Clay, Jensen, Aisha and the rest of Losers. Until then, I’ll be in line to see the movie again because yes, I thought it was THAT good.
Rating – B+
Reviewed by M R Reed.
The Graphic novel, Vol 1 & 2, are also now available at Titan Books.
Photos copyright2010 to Warner Brothers Pictures.