The Losers
Whatever it is, Zoe, I’m sure we can work it out.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/23/2010
Director: Sylvain White
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Óscar Jaenada, Jason Patric, Holt McCallany

This week’s comic book film is “The Losers”, centered on an elite group of soldiers betrayed by the government and out for redemption/revenge. However, in sharp contrast to a certain other adaptation currently in theaters, this production won’t get any flack for its questionable content.

That’s because “The Losers” is rated PG-13. Yup, even though the good guys are soldiers trained to kill with guns, knives and their bare hands (who take out dozens of thugs), there’s less blood spilt than some episodes of Iron Chef. Although I see the financial point of view here, and there wasn’t a need to be overly graphic or obscenely bloody, these are at the very least the type of blokes who might utter a profane word here or there. But rather than risk the box office hit by earning a more restrictive rating, everyone had their mouths washed out with soap and the killings were sanitized in a cable TV-like manner.

That’s not to say the film isn’t any fun. Far from it, the interplay between the characters is lively and humorous, thanks mostly to a good choice of casting. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an effective authority figure for the group, Zoe Saldana is possibly hotter than the Sun itself, and Chris Evans, Columbus Short, Idris Elba and Óscar Jaenada provide the right mix of personalities to make it all really interesting.

As Evans and Short handle the comedic duties (and Evans’ method to ensure a private elevator is genius), Elba and Jaenada give the team a much needed element of toughness and capability. Since the film isn’t big on character development (and I wasn’t looking for it anyway), the actors must all get their points of view delivered to the audience quickly and that’s the case here.

While the heroes are all great fun, what sealed my stamp of approval was the villain, as portrayed by Jason Patric. He’s a heartless bastard with goals and he means to see them through. Whether it’s dealing with failure by his subordinates or reacting to the good guys spoiling his plans, Patric shrugs it all off with an arrogant, pithy charm and dry wit.

Actors aside, there are definitely some issues that keep this from being a truly great action film. Director Sylvain White’s choices when framing the action and cutting it together were far from inspired and at times annoying. Whether it’s jump cutting a scene to match up to the drumbeat of the soundtrack or ramping the frame rate up and down to highlight bad guys being shot, it all came off as gimmicky rather than stylish.

Also, as the film comes to a close, there are two epilogue scenes – one before the credits, one within the credits. Why? The first one already completely broke the flow of the picture, as the “ending” has happened and the audience is ready for the credits. By then throwing in a second scene during the credits, it’s almost as if White was trying to find some way to make sure the audience didn’t leave before the theater lights came up all the way.

Otherwise, White and the team did a fairly nice job of keeping the pace of the film brisk and filling the 98 minute runtime appropriately. And while I’m still quite annoyed that “The Losers” is PG-13, in a blatant attempt to increase box office rather than hold true to the integrity of the source material, it’s dumb, mindless fun and I’m happy to give the film a 3.5 out of 5.

It doesn’t try to be anything else that what it is and I’d be willing to go another round with the whole affair (especially because I’ll see anything with Zoe Saldana in it). If you’ve already seen “Kick-Ass“, go ahead and stop in to see this one.