A couple of months ago, Matthew Vaughn’s hyperviolent Kick-Ass somersaulted over the graves of Watchmen and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, proving that comic book-inspired action movies can be every bit as smart and sassy as the cult pictorials they are based on. Director Sylvain White continues the good work with The Losers, an explosive romp based on the potty-mouthed DC Comics series written by Andy Diggle and illustrated by Jock.
DC strikes back
From its lurid opening frames, White’s film embraces a heightened reality with bold, colourful graphics and exaggerated violence, coupled with snappy dialogue lifted from the page by screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. They jettison most of the swearing to secure a family-friendly 12A certificate without sacrificing the big laughs or the bigger bangs, although one steamy bedroom scene might convince parents to leave small children with the babysitter.
Nothing to lose
Elite Special Forces commander Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his team oversee the bombing of a drugs factory in the jungles of Bolivia. Having given the order to attack, Clay spots a bus full of children arriving at the compound. Unable to call off the air strike, Clay rallies the troops: communications and tech wizard Jensen (Chris Evans), demolitions and tactical expert Roque (Idris Elba), transportation and heavy weapons operative Pooch (Columbus Short) and long-range eliminations specialist Cougar (Oscar Jaenada). They rescue the tykes in the nick of time only to see their escape transport blasted to smithereens by criminal mastermind Max (Jason Patric). “That was supposed to be us,” growls Clay. A mysterious US operative called Aisha (Zoe Saldana) promises to smuggle the entire squad back onto American soil if they hunt down and kill Max. So the highly trained men return from the dead to capture their nemesis. In the process, the men stumble upon an even bigger conspiracy involving particle bombs (and other vague words sort of connected to physics and the like) that can raze an entire island in seconds. Shit.
Losers? Winners (we are so clever)
The Losers is a rollicking romp, which would be around 10 minutes leaner if director White was more judicious with slow motion in his action sequences. Set pieces are breathlessly orchestrated, culminating in an overblown showdown at the dockyards, and the machine-gun banter is riddled with snappy one-liners. Short and Evans monopolise the belly laughs, the latter playing up to his image as a goofball in scenes such as the one when Jensen performs a quick change in a lift and quite literally gets caught with his trousers down by four women. Patric is a hoot too as the pantomime villain who is poorly versed in social niceties. “How have you been?” Max asks one business contact. “I’ve recently attended the funeral of my best friend who you threw off a roof. How are you?” retorts the underling.
The door is left wide open for a sequel so if The Losers prove to be box-office winners, Clay and his team will be back, armed with even bigger guns and quips. Having been pleasantly surprised by this action flick, we might even be in the queue.