Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander star in Alex Garland's directorial debut
A Special Forces Team are betrayed and seek revenge in a noisy action flick based on a comic
The Losers opens in the Bolivian jungle. Our posse of five muscle-bound guys gather around in their sweaty vests and combat gear, and proceed to get pull their manly weapons out on the table to compare sizes. This is the type of film we're dealing with: the dude with the biggest shooter is the daddy, and gun size absolutely does matter. The concept of gun control would refer strictly to how accurate a shot you are, because this is your back-to-basics, over-the-top action movie.
Our five hardware happy chums are the 'losers' of the title, although the first scene would like to make it quite clear for anybody who's a little slow that they are losers only in an ironic, down-on-your-luck gumshoe way. They're not nerds, man. If you're not convinced they're cool yet, check this out: inside five minutes, they storm a bad guy's house, just prior to it being blown up by the good guys, and save a helicopter's worth of little kids from being blown up by the good guys, only for the kids to then be blown up by the bad guys. But wait, if the good guys were about to blow up the kids, they can't be good guys, right? Just who exactly blew up that helicopter? It would seem the fellas have been double crossed by their own side, but instead of bitching and crying about the incredible exploding orphans adventure (one of the kids even had an adorable teddy bear, to make it more sad), these guys just get on with the business of revenge. See, not losers: cool guys.
So who exactly are our cool guys? Like the Spice Girls before them (and targeted at much the same age range) each member of the gang has a different flavour. Meet Sniper Spice, Hacker Spice, Pilot Spice, Command Spice and Second-In-Command Spice. Lest you think I'm ridiculing them unfairly, their actual names are sillier, recalling a range of cheap aftershave knock-offs on a dodgy market stall: Pooch, Cougar, Jensen, Roque and Clay. The actors breathing life into these creations are better than strictly necessary for this type of caper - you've got Watchmen's charismatic Jeffery Dean Morgan, The Wire's moody Idris Elba, and Chris Evans as the elite hacker, but more importantly, comic relief.
The plot is completely standard and the filmmaking of the school of Tony Scott. That's a school where you watch Domino and Man On Fire for extra credit and the meat of the syllabus is courses in 'How To Make Things Look Totally Rad Using Snappy Edits' and 'Why It's Never A Bad Thing To Freeze Frame On People's Faces When You Introduce Their Character'. You may find this frenetic, flashy method of filmmaking stylish, or you may find it bloody annoying. It depends on your tolerance for things like constant jump-cutting and aggressive guitar-rap from bands like Hed Planet Earth (if you'd like to check, you can listen to the track Renegade, by Hed Planet Earth, which features on The Losers' soundtrack over here - sample lyric: "me you will never control, no, genocidal maniacal.").
The Losers is based on the comic from Vertigo, which in its turn was a sort-of resurrection of a DC comic set during World War II, although Andy Diggle, who wrote the modern version, says he "made it a point not to" read any of the originals. The film is very faithful to the spirit of Diggle's comic with the violence toned down a notch for that 12A demographic, which in this instance is appropriate: no amount of 18 certificate sex or violence would turn this into an adult film; might as well let the kids enjoy it.
Decent performances from the actors involved can't disguise the fact that this is a hollow bauble. But if you're in the mood for cinematic junk food, you might get a kick out of it.
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