An In Depth Review of The Losers

An In Depth Review of <em>The Losers</em>

A comprehensive and detailed look at the recent Vertigo adaption, The Losers. This review includes trailers, character posters and some scenes WB released from the film.

This is for those of you still on the fence about the film.



Well, this is a difficult review for me. I love The Losers, the series. It is one series that never disappointed me, so going into this movie I had a lot of expectations.
So, did the film live up to these expectations, did it stay true to the source material? Let’s see, shall we?
This review is not as long as it seems, I included the trailers, posters and the character posters for the film as well.



I’ll start by giving a brief summary of what the Losers is about.
Here is the plot of the series:
“ The Losers' reimagining was set against events surrounding and including the War on Terror. Originally a Special Forces team integrated with the Central Intelligence Agency. In the 90s, the Losers were betrayed by their handler, Max, and left for dead following the conclusion of their operation. Eager for revenge and the opportunity to remove their names from a secret CIA death list, the Losers regroup and conduct covert operations against the CIA and its interests, uncovering startling operations spearheaded by the enigmatic Max, whose influence within the CIA and U.S. government is unparalleled.

Now, here is the film:


“Five members of an elite United States Special Forces team are sent into the Bolivian jungle. The team find themselves the target of a betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Believed to be dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they're joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda.

Fairly similar, right? It seems like they were true to the source right?



I may be a little harsh. The overall tone of the film was true to the series, which focuses on the team’s attempts to clear their name and get back at Max for screwing them over. The film is true to this, except on the methods.

In the first two arcs of the comic, which the film is adapted from, The Losers attempt to expose the unspeakable lengths that the CIA have gone to in order to ensure America’s “security”. In the comic, the CIA does this by smuggling drugs and weapons into and out of the country in order to fund covert ops. And most of this is coordinated by a enigmatic handler known to the world as “Max”. Max is simply a codename that has been in use since WWII by the OSS and eventually the CIA. In the series, Max is rarely seen. He is basically a voice over a phone, a corrupt Charlie if you will.

SPOILERS
In the film, none of this is relevant. Max’s endgame is that he creates sonic bombs to sell to enemies of the US. These “Snukes” as they are called are a clean form of weapons that have the capacity to destroy an entire island. Max in this is not simply an omnipresent voice on a phone, he is a man seen for the majority of the film. But, I will cover him in the cast section.
END SPOILERS

I for one could not understand why, or how, they went from a simple and politically stirring plot device like drugs and guns to a snuke. The Snuke and Max are the only main differences between the grahic novel and the film.

Several instances in the film are lifted directly from the comic. The scene from the comic where they “chopper-jack” the US army was pulled nearly exactly panel for panel from the series. They altered it in one place to give Pooch the infamous “Blagyver” line. That was one of my favorite parts of the comic, and it came out great in the film.

One thing that annoyed me was that this film did nothing to expand upon the back stories of the characters, save for Pooch. It would have helped us have an emotional attachment to the characters if we knew something about where they came from.

My favorite moment has to be when Chris Evans’s Jensen has to infiltrate an office building to gain some crucial information. This is an amazing translation of the comic, executed perfectly. I won’t give anything away, but it was hilarious.
Here is the scene for those wanting to see it (you would not believe how hard this was to find)

The Losers - Clip #9 HD [VO]
Uploaded by Lyricis. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will move on to the cast now.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Franklin Clay.

Morgan is great as Clay, he plays Clay as a good blend of the Comedian and John Winchester. He has the relaxed cynical tone of the Comedian combined with John Winchester’s practicality and level headedness. Morgan is great in this role, but his version of Clay is much lighter than the comics. Clay in the series would be visibly angered at the mere mention of Max’s name, and carried a great deal of guilt over what had happened to his men.

Idris Elba as William Roque.

Elba was disappointing to me. He portrayed Roque as a very one sided character, with little death and emotion. His only emotions were angry and less angry. I’m not sure if this is the actor or the directors fault.

Zoe Saldana as Aisha al-Fadhil.

She is probably the most radically altered character in the film. Gone is the cold murdering b**** who would slit a man’s throat and lick the blood from the blade. Instead we get a much lighter version of the character that still maintains some of the cold and calculating nature of the source character. The film really played up Zoe’s sex appeal, and still managed to adequately use her acting talent, making her more than just eye candy. Her interaction with the rest of the cast was excellent, Zoe had excellent chemistry with all of the actors. My biggest complaint with her is that they changed her origin from being Middle Eastern to Columbian with a perfect American accent.

Chris Evans as Jake Jensen.

Probably my favorite part of the film. He stole every scene he was in. He said lines that any other actor would fail at. He is probably the only person who could pull off Jensen’s one lines effectively. He is the real highlight of the film. As perfect as he is for Jensen, it doesn’t really help the idea of him being Captain America. He is too… energetic, manic. And his build is too slight, but I think some time in a weight room will handle that. I only hope he downplays his natural comedic talent in Captain America.

Columbus Short as Linwood "Pooch" Porteous.

Arguably the biggest surprise of the film, save for Max. I had only seen Short in “Stomp the Yard”, so I was unsure what to expect from him. I was pleasantly surprised, he turned my least favorite Loser from the comic, to one of my favorites from the film. He was a perfect Pooch, I mean a near exact translation! I have no complaints at all.

Óscar Jaenada as Carlos "Cougar" Alvarez.

This is his first big budget starring role and he did great with the little lines he was given. He was a good translation of Cougar and I have no complaints, save for one. My one complaint is that they did not go into his back story at all. He is an interesting character, but they didn’t give him enough detail.

Jason Patric as Max.
The biggest character change from the comics. As I have said, Max was an enigmatic character in the comics, here he is the opposite. All of his motivations and plots are right on the cuff, little is played close to the vest, and yet this strangely works. If they were to make Max a real person, they did a great job of it. They made him a confident man, comfortable in his motivations and goal. He is a strong believer in the ends justifying the means. Patric was unbelievable as Max, you never questioned his character. It took me most of the movie to recognize Michael from Lost Boys as the villain of this film. Max is an unassuming man, who still has a commanding presence and Patric played this perfectly. He was comical, yet malicious. Honestly I was reminded of Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker. You never knew if Max was going to crack a joke or shoot someone in the face for dropping his umbrella. This unpredictability, and possible insanity, made this one of the best surprises of the film. The ending with him has o be one of the best, and most humiliating, end scene of any villain, it was perfectly written.

Visually the film is pleasing, I am not too fond of shaky cameras, but they are popular in action films. The action scenes were well choreographed and believable. Nothing in this film, save for the snukes, was unbelievable. You could actually see people doing these things in real life.

You can tell that director Sylvain White loves and respects the amazing artwork done on the series by Mark Simpson aka Jock. Several scenes in the film were shot as if the panel had come to life before you. I especially liked how when they introduced the characters they cut in a shot of Jock’s artwork. It was also nice seeing the credits, which were basically a motion comic of the artwork from the series.




The film has a good original score that really goes well with the scenes. It also includes great tracks from famous artists, my two favorites being “Black Betty” by Ram Jam and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. “Don’t Stop Believing” is played during one of the best scenes of the film and becomes the anthem of this film. Not the song one would expect in an action film, but it fits the scene perfectly.

One thing that I think hindered this film had to be its PG 13 rating. They were forced to tone down the action and change scenes, and even characters, to match a PG 13 style. Zoe Saldana’s character, as she is in the books, could not even exist in a PG 13 film. This is a girl that cuts off peoples ears, and licks blood from the knife while doing it! The language was another thing that suffered. Several lines in the film were almost word for word from the comics, yet others were altered due to the proliferate swearing in the Vertigo series. The lack of **** and *** or **** made some of the lines awkward and less effective.

Overall the film is enjoyable despite its departures from the source material, and reality.
I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It is a honest, enjoyable action flick, but unlike many action flicks it actually takes the time to develop the characters and even ties up what subplot it introduces. The scene during the credits with Jensen is evidence enough of that.

HAWK out
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