Monday, April 26, 2010

The Losers (2010)

The Losers is a really, really stupid movie. This isn’t much of a problem when it’s fun. And sometimes, The Losers is fun. But generally it’s a tonally/logically/cinematically challenged mess.

Like recent fanboy flick Kick-Ass, The Losers is a comic book adaptation that mixes dark violence with skewered comedic quips. In the first ten minutes a helicopter of recently rescued children gets blown out of the sky, our hero (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) drowns his sorrows in Bolivian cock fights, then beats the crap out of a woman in a spicy hotel room brawl (to be fair, she gives as good as she gets). Shortly thereafter, the bad guy shoots his designated “hot assistant” in the face for allowing the wind to briefly blow away the umbrella shielding him from the sun.

This movie is rated PG-13. Are we having fun yet?

The quipy super-team of movie hero cool guys is. They crack jokes. They dance to Journey. They occasionally think about their family back home, but they know they don’t need to sweat it because – in contrast to their brutal cinema surroundings – they know that death isn’t a threat to them. And unfortunately, we know it too.

Where The Losers fails is exactly where Kick-Ass (2010) succeeds. That movie challenges us with vicious violence, often dished out by a homicidal 11-year-old, yet it finds a way to balance the heavy and the light in that scenario. Kick-Ass is a film of the Kill Bill (2003) variety, presenting violence as exhilarating – often even artistic – in its cinematic achievement. Some people don’t know exactly what to feel about it, or how to react, but director Matthew Vaughn (and Tarantino before him) knows exactly how HE WANTS you to feel and react, and he’s got the skills to pull it off.

Losers director Sylvain White has a hard time establishing that directive (to be fair, he probably wasn’t asked to generate too much emotionally while directing the likes of Stomp the Yard and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer), and his movie suffers accordingly. He goes to great lengths to paint his canvas with cool, and it shows – like a nerd who snuck into the cool kids party, The Losers tries very hard to be something it’s not.

A cross of G.I. Joe and The A-Team, The Losers pits a Morgan-lead team of black op specialists against an omniscient-type baddie named Max (Jason Patric). Max is the kind of wise-cracking uber-scoundrel that uses weapons of mass destruction to rock the world into stability…and yes, he kills women and children with glee. He’s sort of like a Bond villain crossed with an Austen Powers villain, and not in a good way. So after Max blows up the kiddie-filled helicopter in an attempt to kill Morgan’s team (just for the heck of it), Morgan vows revenge and hunts him down.

Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Oscar Jaenada and Columbus Short comprise Morgan’s team, filling in various “weapons expert”, “communications expert”, and “funny guy” personas. They’re joined by Zoe Saldana as the mysterious, sexy bad-girl (aka Morgan’s love interest) eager to help them nail Max. Bad guys die. Islands blow up. Jokes are cracked. Etc. etc.

A whole lot of “Hollywood action movie” stuff happens in The Losers. Most of it makes no sense, and none of it is especially interesting. Although I did enjoy watching Oscar Jaenada and thinking it was actually Justin Long in a silly costume and a bad accent.

You could go the other way and wonder how Javier Bardem got so boring and turned into Jeffrey Dean Morgan. But than you might just get sad thinking about how much better this movie would have been if Morgan WAS Bardem, and you’re really just better off shutting down your brain and enjoying the pretty colors.

‘Cause I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Sylvain White did when he made this movie.

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