Saturday, May 29, 2010
The Case for Winning Losers
Straight off: the Losers is a stupid film.
I am sorry, it just is. I knew this going in, and it lived up to that. How am I defining stupid? The story was moronic (and will have many similarities with the upcoming A Team movie I am sure), loud rock music punctuated every action scene, the action scenes themselves were designed as slow motion ballet sequences but executed a bit on the elephantine side, and explosions replaced any real sense of character development or depth.
But, again, I knew all that going in. It was bound to be rubbish – but entertaining rubbish. And entertaining it certainly was, featuring a ridiculously good looking cast. It’s hard to take the “loser” claim seriously when Jeffrey Dean Morgan (the Comedian in Watchmen and “dad” in Supernatural) plays the principled Colonel Clay, the gorgeous (yet so thin!) Zoe Saldana (Uhura in Star Trek) plays the fiery vixen Aisha, Chris Evans (Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four) is the athletic yet off-the-wall techno geek (you can tell he knows computers because he wears glasses), Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from the Wire) plays the no-nonsense Captain Torque, Columbus Short is family man automotive expert Pooch and Oscar Jaenada plays the mysterious man in the hat, Cougar. Being a “loser” obviously does not mean having compromised morals, or not surviving battles, or being unlucky with women (besides the geek, of course), but none of that really matters. They are meant to be the underdogs, and their team name tells you that – it’s that simple.
I imagine the pitch to Jeffrey Dean Morgan to get him to sign on to his film went something like this: “You will be the rugged, world-weary leader of a band of fit young professional soldiers. You will have a strong moral code and a physical toughness and personal charisma second to none. And you will also get the girl”. The fact that “girl” ended up being Zoe Saldana would have widened that Comedian grin, I am sure. For Zoe Saldana, it may have gone like this: “You will be a tough woman from the wrong side of the tracks, handling guns and kicking butt alongside, but not with, the rest of the team. You will have girl power galore, a strength that is not lessened by your relationship with the leader of the Losers.” Perhaps, though they had them at “hello”.
The other characters are all caricatures (as well), which is also fine. Columbus Short is the nervy guy with the wise cracking attitude. Oscar Jaenada plays his sniper with the cool of an Hispanic iceberg. Chris Evans seems to love playing these nerdy/geeky-but-still-jocky roles and he appears to be having a whale of a time. Idris Elba meanwhile is brooding menace, even more so than in his television days. But then, they all fall into the clichéd shade as Jason Patric rolls out the high camp malevolent menace as manipulating Max.
There are no surprises (well, besides the fairly shocking plane and bike CGI scene which amazed me in its obvious awfulness – it will be worse on the small screen, I am sure) but plenty of laughs to be had, though the bullets and explosions outnumber the words of dialogue about 10 to 1. The only real interruption to the pace of the film was the unintended break when the film, for no apparent reason, stopped for about 5 minutes, just as one of the first major action sequences got underway. Luckily, the Readings staff got everything sorted before the natives got too restless and took violent action of their own.
Verdict: While visually the Losers is a feast, albeit with a few dishes undercooked, it is a spiritual and mental famine. So empty calories really, which I quite felt like at the time. But, unlike after eating KFC, I didn’t feel too gross afterwards, and I was actually able to appreciate what little the film had to offer. 6 sonic explosives out of 10.