Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, and Columbus Short star in THE LOSERS, directed by Sylvain White for Warner Bros.

The Losers (2010, Sylvain White)

A friend of mine (colleague might be the better designation, but friend first, I suppose) has given up on punishing slash hating films for having bad endings. I disagree. Otherwise, I’d give The Losers four stars and scream recommendations for it from the rooftops. Because the end of The Losers, an exceptionally problematic action revenge picture, is the greatest thing ever. It might actually be the best ending of a film ever.

I’m even calling it a film. Literature is nothing but good fiction writing and the end of The Losers is nothing but good film.

The Losers fails for a lot of reasons. Mostly because it utterly wastes an excellent cast. Chris Evans might be taking on the only great role left in adapted fiction (he’s due to be Captain America) but The Losers almost completely wastes him. Almost. It’s nice it doesn’t, because it certainly wastes its other exceptional cast members.

Columbus Short, a fantastic character actor, is reduced to a nothing role; his finest moments are basically when he directly echoes his role on “Studio 60.”

Óscar Jaenada has like ten lines. They’re all good. It’s too bad the film doesn’t do anything with him. (Look at me, still calling it a film).

In case you’re counting, The Losers doesn’t get four stars because of its exceptional, wonderful, better than Ocean’s Twelve ending, but it does get 500 words instead of the usual 250.

Idris Elba is fantastic throughout–like Short and Evans–but Elba gets the most screen time of the three actors. He doesn’t get the best material (Evans does) but he’s so good, even when the script fails on him.

Because, really, The Losers ought to be about him and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s relationship. It’s more than a friendship, more than a partnership, it’s about men working together and relying on each other. But The Losers isn’t about any of that thoughtful nonsense. Instead, it’s a modified adaptation of a really mediocre comic book.

The comic has really good art and really paltry writing, until the writing gets plain stupid. The film doesn’t go as stupid as the comic, but it gets pretty bad. The comic, however, never thought of having Zoe Saldana’s mercenary be a complete joke. Saldana’s performance probably knocks The Losers down a full star. Between her and Morgan (he’s too passive as the ostensible lead), there’s just no way for the film to recover.

Though having nineties guy Holt McCallany is nice; he plays Otis to Jason Patric’s Lex Luthor. Imagine if Gene Hackman had played Lex Luthor with total derision and visible loathing for the role and you’re about a tenth of the way to how awful Patric’s performance gets. He’s clearly upset he’s in this film. I hope he put in a nice pool.

White’s a mediocre director. He’s unimaginative and shoots an action movie like Tony Scott would. Terrible lighting from Scott Kevan (probably White’s fault). Okay music from Ottman.

But greatest ending ever. Don’t stop believing.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Sylvain White; screenplay by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, based on the comic book by Andy Diggle and Jock; director of photography, Scott Kevan; edited by David Checel; music by John Ottman; production designer, Aaron Osborne; produced by Joel Silver, Akiva Goldsman and Kerry Foster; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clay), Zoe Saldana (Aisha), Chris Evans (Jensen), Idris Elba (Roque), Columbus Short (Pooch), Óscar Jaenada (Cougar), Holt McCallany (Wade) and Jason Patric (Max).

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