The Losers

The Losers walks that thin line between serious and over-the-top very well.

The Losers is an archetypal, modern action film. The title, promos and premise make abundantly clear what to expect from it and the movie delivers on its promises. Even though it is adapted from a graphic novel, it does not make the mistake of being overly stylish at the expense of being a good movie merely to be faithful to its source.

A back story fills us in, introducing a five-man-specialist-squad, mid-scene in freeze-frame with floating titles. Betrayed and almost killed while on a mission in Bolivia, without passports or any clue to the identity of their betrayer, save for his name, these “Losers” settle down in a small town doing odd-jobs. When suspiciously helpful Aisha (Zoe Saldana) gives them an opportunity to return to their homeland and avenge themselves, they jump at it, setting out to find Max (Jason Patric) and settle the score. Bombs, break-ins and betrayals ensue.

Director Sylvan White previously made the hit dance movie Stomp the Yard. As he did with that film, here too he is aware of what works for his target audience and stays true to it, walking that thin line between serious and over-the-top very well. Little time is spent establishing the characters or giving them any depth. Instead, the movie is packed with frequent and energizing moments that carry the plot through its short 98-minute runtime. It helps that the actors add a zest of idiosyncrasies to their stock-characters. This is especially true of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Clay, Chris Evans’ Jensen andJason Patric’s Max. Morgan is a minor discovery here. Elevated to leading man status, and although he does not set the screen on fire, he does have a suave presence that is very easily indulged. Evansbrings a side-kick role to the fore with his loud, jovial portrayal of the team’s tech nerd. He inhabits this role with an organic charm, making his silly antics delightful. Patric, though he plays the antagonist Max, is at tangents to all the others, chewing up every scene he’s in. A true megalomaniac, Max does not have the gravitas associated with standard James Bond villains and Patric takes the character to a level usually associated with cartoon villains (think Earthworm Jim), even making an absurd pollution-free bomb look conceivable.

The Losers does not break new ground, nor does it set any new precedents. Another entry in a genre that constantly updates itself, it makes a sporadic exhibition of fast action, cool macho men and funny one-liners. In a year that will also see the release of both The A-Team movie and the highly anticipated Expendables, the fact that The Losers released before either and gets most of its elements right is to its credit. It is, above all, an entertaining film that sticks to its guns and revels in everything this genre has to offer.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.