April 29, 2010

by Justin Phillips

Screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt never intended their new release to win any awards at the Sundance film festival this year.

They aren’t assuming their movie will win a “Best Screenplay” nomination or an “Independent Spirit” award anytime soon.
What they do expect is for action movie junkies dying for a cinematic fix before the summer blockbusters start rolling in, to overdose on explosions while watching their newest creation, “The Losers.”

For the intended audience of thrill-seeking, comic-booking loving teenagers and adults alike, “The Losers” is a homerun.
People who choose to sift through the rubble of blown up helicopters, cars, buildings and people after the film ends to search for any indication of there having been a decent plot behind the carnage will be sorely disappointed.

Berg, who did excellent work on the 2004 film “Friday Night Lights,” and Vanderbilt, who worked on the 2007 psychological thriller “Zodiac,” somehow forgot to include a good storyline to back the heart-thumping action sequences.

The film’s low budget for action movies in today’s film world, $25 million, and cast of an assortment of familiar, but not overly memorable side role-actors, are all signs that point to the film being a possible flop even before having reached the theaters.

Fortunately, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen”), Chris Evans
(“Fantastic Four”), Idris Elba (“Obsessed”), Columbus Short (“Stomp the Yard”) and Oscar Jaenada (“Che: Part Two”) all manage to admirably carry the film amid the fireballs and gunfire.

Based on a graphic novel, much like several recent blockbuster movies this decade, the film is reaching theaters with a built-in fan base from its 2003 DC/Vertigo series written by Andy Diggle. And within the genre, the film sets itself apart by carefully walking the invisible line between too realistic and cartoonish while working within a PG-13 rating.

“The Losers” starts quickly and ends very much the same way. In the beginning, the beloved group of mercenaries are set up as the perpetrators of an extremely gruesome act of violence.

The sequence of explosions the group is framed for carrying out involves a drug-related bust operation going terribly wrong and leaves kids, buildings and everything in between burnt to a crisp.

The group is forced to go on the run. During this period of hiding they run into Aisha (Saldana) who helps the group get back home to carry out a revenge plot against Clay (Morgan.)
The film is filled with endearing moments for the characters, most of them coming from the computer geek-type character Jensen (Evans.)

Despite the moments of character development in the film, they are just that, fleeting moments which occur few and far between. The film is a fast-paced thrill ride type of action moments for better and worse. The areas where the stereotypical action movie lacks substance are the exact places where the film shoots and misses.

At the end of the day, “The Losers,” is a nice lead into the summer blockbuster movies soon to be released and with a bit of understanding, a love for violence and a short attention span, “The Losers” can deliver on its promise of just being a great action movie for 2010.