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"That was my hit him in the face nod, not my throw him off the damn building nod!"
on 24 April 2012
In a more just universe, The Losers would have done the kind of business the disappointingly shoddy Expendables did and kickstarted a series, but in this one it pretty much came and went unnoticed in the US and was a complete box-office disaster just about everywhere else. Which is a shame, because it's a terrific comicbook action movie that manages to be stylish without being incomprehensible and delivers satisfying action scenes even if it's not in the business of offering surprises. The Losers aren't superheroes but a modern-day A-Team who get set up after taking out a Bolivian druglord on his home turf and, as mercenaries for hire, try to make enough money to get back to the States, find the mysterious Max who `killed' them and deliver some payback. Not exactly rewriting the action movie playbook, it's true, but this does it with wit and panache in a globetrotting plot (well, Bolivia, Dubai and some of the lower American states) that belies its relatively low budget and makes its ensemble of hardboiled wisecracking heroes worth rooting for.
Coming off Avatar, Zoe Saldana's mystery woman who hires them got most of the geek publicity, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan, coming across as a combination of George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr., is a charismatic lead who manages to be convincingly hardboiled without being unlikeable, with Chris Evans' techno-nerd, Columbus Short's one-who-wants-to-get-back-to-his-family who ticks all the deadmeat cliché boxes, Idris Elba's constantly threatening one and Oscar Jaenada's sniper who's main characteristic is his hat rounding out the team. But the big surprise of the film is Jason Patric as the kind of guy who has so many evil plots going at the same time he can't keep track of who he's set up or killed. Usually a flat one-note actor who manages to outstay his welcome before his first scene is half over, here his dryly sardonic eco-friendly master villain is a genuine delight, his absurdly underplayed scenes with sidekick Holt McCallany pitch perfect ("That was my hit him in the face nod, not my throw him off the damn building nod!"). At times the film does favor banter over action, but there's enough of both to go round and it's hard to complain when one of the villains gets one of the more spectacular exits in recent years. Ultimately it's nothing more than an entertaining action movie with a sense of humor, but when it's done this well that's more than enough.
Optimum's Bluray offers a good 2.40:1 widescreen transfer and a decent array of extras - audio commentary by comicbook writers Andy Diggle and Jock, a deleted scene, five featurettes and trailer.