Who doesn't like a good comic book movie?
(Notice I said good—I would never try to inflict The Green Lantern on you. I love y'all too much for that sort of betrayal, Ryan Reynolds's abs notwithstanding.)
Well, if you're up for another one—and yes, I'm aware we're all hitting that saturation point where we've maybe had too much of a good thing, what with there being roughly ten billion Marvel films and a glut of DC stuff in the tubes coming straight for us—then allow me to lead you down the path least taken.
I'm talking about a lesser known, Vertigo-flavored slice of fried gold that has never been spoken of in the same breath as Batman, Spider-Man, or any of those other Lycra-clad animal-themed superheroes.
I'm here to talk to you about the gloriousness that is The Losers.
Do you like rag-tag bands of not-so-merry men? Are you fond of underdog stories full of madcap hijinks and snarky dialogue? Is it just not a good time unless there are enough spent shell-casings to carpet a drug lord's bedroom?
Have I got the movie for you!
Our titular heroes were once an elite Special Forces unit, sent to Bolivia to take out a criminal kingpin. But after a shocking betrayal, the quintet—Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Roque (Idris Elba), Jensen (Chris Evans), Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), and Pooch (Columbus Short)—let Uncle Sam think them dead and set to work locating the man responsible for their fall from grace: the über-villainous Max (Jason Patric).
The Losers can't do this without some help, though, and that's where the mysterious and ass-kicking Aisha (Zoe Saldana) comes in. But can they trust her? It seems everyone has ulterior motives, and perhaps they can't even rely on their own teammates anymore…
What follows is a lot of espionage work, explosions, helicopter hijacking, gunfire, MacGuyvering (or, as Pooch calls it, Black MacGuyvering—BlaGuyvering), questionable romantic choices, rocket launchers (I've said it before, but I'll say it again: it's always a good idea to give a rocket launcher to Zoe Saldana), and secret weapons capable of destroying entire cities.
Because of course there is.
The Losers fully embraces its origins with comic-style intros for the main characters, sharp jump cuts, and wild action. When the movie opens with the heroes rescuing a slew of kids by outrunning a bomb blast in a short bus, you know you're in for a fun time.
And Chris Evans wears a bright pink t-shirt promoting The Petunias, his eight-year-old niece's soccer team. (In fact, Evans wears a whole slew of great shirts in this, and apparently most of them are actually his. His mother's been quoted as saying Jensen's smart-ass personality is close to his in real life, to which I think we can all say hallelujah!)
It's just a great cast all around, with Idris Elba as the surly, multi-knife-wielding Roque, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian himself) as the team's noble leader Clay, and smokin' hot Oscar Jaenada as the laconic sniper Cougar. And, Jason Patric is obviously having a swell time as the sarcastic CIA spook Max.
This is easily one of the funniest action films out there. Physical comedy, situational humor, hilarious dialogue—The Losers has it all. The number of times I burst out laughing can't actually be tallied. I can guarantee that you won't be able to hear Journey's “Don't Stop Believin' ” again without thinking of Chris Evans as a bike messenger in basketball shorts (or picking a fight with a soccer referee).
Only in this movie could the phrase “giant vibrating Easter egg from hell” be used in a serious context.
Plus, the bad guys are almost as funny as the heroes. An action film is only truly great when its got either A) really intimidating baddies or B) really amusing baddies, and Max and his henchman Wade (Holt McCallany) manage to be a little bit of both.
The first time you actually see Max, it's when he's intimidating a bunch of Indian businessmen. He gives a nod to Wade, who promptly throws one of them off the building—and the response?
MAX: What the hell was that?
WADE: You gave me the nod.
MAX: A hit-him-in-the-face nod, not a throw-him-off-the-roof nod!
WADE (shrugging): …I thought that's what you wanted.
MAX: At most that was a break-his-fingers nod! Jesus, Wade, the man was a scientific genius! Granted, his weight suggested some impulse control issues, but that's no reason to throw his fat ass off fifty-seven floors…
Then he just shrugs with a resigned sigh. Later, he plays Go Fish with some henchmen. I mean, really.
For all of its humor, it's still an action film with a huge share of epically badass moments—slow-mo, ultra-stylized fight scenes, dramatic poses, and everyone's got awesome guns (I'm talking arms and firearms here; I thank the costuming department every re-watch for those tight, tight t-shirts)…
This was clearly great prep for Chris Evans's work as Captain America, and anyone who says Idris Elba couldn't be Bond is lying to the world, and themselves, because the man knows his way around fight choreography and just oozes charisma.
For the most part, it's a closed narrative, and the fact that there was never a sequel doesn't bother me too much. But damn, this was a movie I wouldn't mind seeing turned into a franchise. The characters are that loveable, the writing that good.
Plus, it was just open-ended enough that a sequel would have made sense. But, it seems those of us who appreciate the underrated are always doomed to disappointment…
So, if you're in the mood for a fun action film with a really pretty (and really multicultural) cast and great music, The Losers makes for a winning choice.
(Sorry, but how could I pass up the opportunity for that pun? It's like you don't even know me…)
If you like: Your action heavily laced with comedy; any of Shane Black's films.
Why you should watch it: The cast! The dialogue! Chris Evans singing a Journey classic!
Favorite moment(s): The aforementioned Journey-laced sequence; the explosive finale at the LA docks.
Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.