The Losers is a film I had been looking forward to. Now that I have seen it, I feel the material has somewhat been neutered. I have not read the comic that it is based on, but I feel that the DC Vertigo title must come across a little edgier than this film does. On top of that it feels ultimately incomplete. It built and built and built only to end with a whimper. In that sense, I was reminded of Push (another Chris Evans movie), where the film was telling an interesting story with decent characters only to stop just as the real interesting stuff started. It is like the studio was trying to simultaneously limit the violence for rating purposes while building in a sequel. There is no doubt they have a franchise in mind. It is too bad they did not go all the way with this release.
Despite these somewhat critical issues, I must say that I still enjoyed the movie. The action is well staged, there is a strong sense for pacing, and the characters are written with a nice dose of sarcastic humor and familial distrust. It has a 'comic book come to life' feel about it that works and the actors are very well cast. The question is how widespread will the appeal be? It wants to be edgy while constantly pushing back towards the middle with its tone, trying to play the line. I really wish that the gloves could have come off and the creative team had made a more consistent film. Of course, this is assuming there were gloves to come off; for all I know this is exactly the film they wanted to make. If that is the case, I am sorry.
The Losers begins in Bolivia where we are introduced to the team: Jensen (Chris Evans), Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), Pooch (Columbus Short), Roque (Idris Elba), and their leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). They are on a mission to tag a notorious drug dealer. Things go south (don't they always?) and the team find themselves betrayed by a high ranking CIA boss named Max (Jason Patric) and stranded in Bolivia where they are believed dead.
They are betrayed, cut of from their lives and thirsting for revenge. They are given a chance to get their lives back with the help of a mysterious woman named Aisha (Zoe Saldana). It seems she has a lot of information about Max, as well as the Losers team, and has a vendetta against the mysterious Max. Despite smelling of suspicion, the team takes Aisha up on her offer and sets about finding Max and getting their lives back.
The story is a relatively simple one, with complications added through suspicion of their benefactor and internal squabbling over what the next move should be. Overall, the story feels very similar to that of The A-Team, what with a team of highly trained operatives who are betrayed and left to fend for themselves while armed with a deadly wit and single-minded desire for victory.
Now, I will not give away the ending, but I could not help but be left wanting when the movie did end. You see, the story, while partially fulfilled, was hardly complete. The conclusion made the entire film nothing more than extended prologue, an origin story if you will.
Despite the straightforward and incomplete story, and that neutered feeling, I still had fun with the movie. It is all credit to the cast. They have great chemistry and impeccable comic timing. They all have distinct personalities, albeit a bit cliched. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has a droll wit and a level head, although the character often fakes it for the sake of what needs to be done. Elba's Roque is the distrustful one, always begging caution around Aisha's deal. Pooch and Cougar are not quite as central, but they are solid nonetheless. However, the most surprising of the bunch is Evans as Jensen. Frankly, I did not recognize him in the trailers, bu he plays the role well, feels comfortable on screen and is the most appealing of the bunch. As odd as it may sound, with this role I can actually see him playing Captain America (for which he was recently cast).
Bottom line. Yes, this is fun but only to am extent. In many regards it is disappointing. There is the potential for a solidly entertaining movie, but too many corners feel as if they were cut, leaving a movie on the edge of darkness, teetering precariously while the cast does all that it can to keep it afloat.