Superhero Movie Month: "The Losers" Review

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Director Sylvain White adapts the Vertigo comic about a team of mercenaries who wage war on the CIA after they're double-crossed in the field and left to die. Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Chris Evans), Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), and Cougar (Óscar Jaenada) were on a black-ops mission in the Bolivian jungle when rogue CIA agent Max (Jason Patric) almost kills them and leaves them stranded. After beating the odds and surviving their ordeal, the team decides to strike back against Max even if it means sacrificing their own lives to do so. Aiding them on their treacherous mission is sexy operative Aisha (Zoe Saldana), who has her own reasons for wanting to see Max get his just deserts.

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: April 23, 2010
Directed by: Sylvain White
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

"The Losers" is an action drama based on the Vertigo comic of the same name. In the film, a team of operatives is double-crossed and stranded after a mission goes terribly wrong, and it does not take long for the elite team to find out that their CIA director tried to kill them. However, the team faces many obstacles before managing to exact revenge.

Plot Summary

"The Losers" begins with an elite group of special operatives -- Clay, Roque, Pooch, Jensen and Cougar -- being assigned to a special search and destroy mission in Bolivia. The team is directed to find and kill a known drug lord, and it quickly tracks him down before finding a group of children working in the compound.

When the team's director, a man Named Max, orders an air strike to kill the drug dealer, the team informs him that there are innocent children who will be killed by the strike. Disregarding their concerns, Max continues with the mission as scheduled. Although it is a close call, the team manages to save the children and bring them to safety. Because of this extra mission, the team fails to get to the helicopter that is supposed to evacuate them, and the team watches as minutes later, the helicopter is shot down.

Quickly realizing that they were targeted by Max, the members hide out in Bolivia and assume fake identities. Assuming the entire team has been killed, Max considers the mission to be completed. Several months later, Clay is approached by a woman named Aisha who offers him a chance to exact revenge on Max, and it turns out the search and destroy mission was just a cover that allowed Max to steal the drug lord's money.

The team quickly comes up with a plan to infiltrate Max's base and steal the money from the mission. However, certain members of the team betray their colleagues and join Max, and Aisha is also not who she appears to be. After some investigative work, Jensen learns that she is actually Max's daughter. As time runs out, the remaining members of the team struggle to find the stash of money and get revenge on everyone who has betrayed them.

Cast

"The Losers" stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clay, the leader of the team. Morgan utilizes his previous experience portraying a comic book hero in "The Watchmen" in this film, creating a character that is capable of leading an often unorganized team of specialists yet at times is completely consumed with the need for revenge.

Chris Evans, Columbus Short, Idris Elba and Oscar Jaenada play the other members of the team. Each actor gives a solid performance, and the mix of character types gives the film depth and limits predictability as each character responds to the situation in a different way. The cast is rounded out by Zoe Saldana, who plays Aisha, and Jason Patric, who plays Max.

Film Analysis

"The Losers" achieves a great balance by referencing the comic on which the film is based and including the elements any great action drama needs. The lighting and special effects make the characters look at times inhuman, much like the characters from the comic. The film also progresses very steadily with no real lags in the plotline. The ending scenes are action-packed, featuring a car chase, explosions, the hijacking of a plane and a gun fight. The action culminates in an unexpected and satisfying ending.

In addition, the film is very character-driven, which only enhances the action-packed plot. Each character goes through a distinct transformation after the failed mission. This reveals the characters' insecurities and informs the audience about the background of the team. However, the characters who ultimately betray their colleagues as well as Aisha's double identity add a unique twist to the plot.

Ultimately, director Sylvain White manages to avoid one of the common pitfalls of action films by not using the script to enhance the action. The script of "The Losers" is devoid of cheesy lines and clichés. The action and suspense is instead enhanced by jump cuts and other filming techniques that speed up the onscreen action. Additionally, several scenes are almost painfully suspenseful. By relying on the characters' performances and the plot development, the movie turns out to be far better than the standard action film.

The characters featured in "The Losers" are far from inept. In fact, the remaining members of the team manage to get revenge and put the stolen money to good use. The film as a whole is very entertaining to watch, with a great plot, several unexpected developments and interesting characters. "The Losers" is a must-see film for any fan of action movies.