Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Losers (2010) – Review

The Losers is a highly entertaining film. Its mix of action and comedy harkens it back to the great action/comedies of the 80’s (like Die Hard, only this was PG-13), chalked full of offbeat villains, outlandish sequences of stylized action, wonderful banter, and a ragtag group (each with his/her own skill set) of mercenaries. The film plays a bit like an homage to action/comedies as the narrative certainly is cognizant of the expectations of the genre, but the movie is still deeply influenced and rooted stylistically in the world of graphic novels. The visual style used is referential to that of comic books as well. The biggest strength of the film is its screenplay, and more to the points its dialog. Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt did an excellent job translating the characters to film and creating great slick funny exchanges between them and great scenes for them. The film is also visually dynamic in that it makes a point to have interesting shot composition whenever possible. However, while the film looks and plays in a sleek cool manner, it is a bit shallow (but is it really supposed to be more than it is?). The narrative and characters have little depth and are mostly one note, but this does not detract from the film’s overall enjoyment. The film does not try to be more than it is, a fun action film, and nor should it (but do not expect to see any Oscar nods). At the end of the film the viewer will have chuckled and laughed at the odd set of characters throughout, been engaged by the well done scenes of action and espionage and surely left with a smile on their face (at least those viewers who are fans of the genre, oh and make sure to stay through the beginning part of the credits). Director Sylvain White did a good job with the film (and it was a big step up from the types of films he had made previously) – he captured the action with a good eye for charismatic visuals (cinematographer Scott Kevan can take a lot of credit for this as well, his lighting in a number of scenes was very good, especially the fight in the hotel on fire), and was able to let the actors feel comfortable with each other to allow the comedy to feel organic and thus work (which again can also be attributed as well to the great script). John Ottman’s music was very fitting and enhanced the overall experience. The production design by Aaron Osborne was also very good (having not read the book, I am not sure how much was pulled visually, but in any case), the sets fit the narrative and chiefly the atmosphere of the piece. The cast as a whole was perfect in the film, in the context of the type of movie it was. Columbus Short had a breakthrough performance, as did Chris Evans – they were both very funny. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (not playing a ghost) and Idris Elba both play off each other well and completely personify their characters. Zoe Saldana (who continues to be great in her movies) plays a badass utterly – she has the swagger down pat. And finally, Jason Patric is just bizarre, and yet fantastic and memorable. The film is just right for those looking for an enthralling time at the theatre, as The Losers will charm, gratify and delight. 7/10

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