'Losers' gets high marks for fun factor

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010

If your main objection to "The Losers" (and I am admittedly making the rather iffy assumption that you have heard of the new comic-based action movie from Sylvain White) is the violence, then I can assuage those concerns at least a bit. Much of the early word on "The Losers" has been about how the movie is "loud" and "violent." Okay, yes, it is both of those things. However, it is also rated PG-13. So while there are big guns, rockets, explosions and plenty of dead bad guys, the violence is not all that wet.

It is mostly good, clean, happy-go-lucky violence. Yes, by the way, I realize how odd the argument I am trying to make sounds. One of the best qualities of "The Losers," though, is how fun it really is. Compared to the "wet" action movies (where the blood splatters are as common as tourists are about to be in downtown Juneau) like "Rambo" or "Edge of Darkness," "The Losers" is downright light-hearted. As much as it is possible to do so, White has created an action-comedy that could just as easily be labeled a comedy-action.

That phrase has no ring to it, of course, and I will retire it here and now.

Now, for those who are still wondering what "The Losers" actually is: DC Comics put out a comic a few years ago about a group of Special Ops badasses that gets double-crossed by their handler, Max. Left for dead and framed for murders that put them on the CIA's secret death list, the Losers regroup and begin covert ops against the CIA with hopes of eventually finding Max and getting their revenge. That is exactly how the script for the movie, written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt (automatic bar bet win for you to file away: Vanderbilt is a distant cousin of Anderson Cooper), sets up the story as well.

As plots go, "The Losers" is hardly a trailblazer. Where the movie succeeds, and this is thanks in part to the writing of Berg and Vanderbilt, is how it maintains a fast pace and entertains from start to finish. None of that would matter at all, however, if the Losers themselves were not appealing. This group is likeable, funny, tough, and sports fabulous chemistry. Clay (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is their confident leader with a soft spot for pretty women (how unique!), and Morgan uses his heroic, square features to fill up the screen. Chris Evans brings his usual wit and charm to Jensen, Columbus Short fits in nicely as Pooch, and Oscar Jaenada oozes that don't-mess-with-me-cool that any good sniper should have as Cougar. Never mind that I actually convinced myself about halfway through the movie that Jaenada was definitely, without a doubt, Justin Long (the Mac guy from the Mac vs. PC commercials). Zoe Saldana (Aisha) brings just enough sex-appeal to the group without making it seem like too much, and Idris Alba (Roque) is just plain built for roles like this. They're a fun group to watch; they're enjoyable to root for.

Jason Patric, who is a talented actor that has always been carefully selective about the roles he takes on, is Max. It should not be surprising that he brings an appropriately subtle psychotic edge to the villain of "The Losers." Patric is the wonderfully evil bad guy that completes the cast - and it is a fantastic cast.

There are even a couple of twists that make a "The Losers 2" possible, and I'm as surprised as anyone when I say it, but... I am on board.

• Check out Carson's movie blog at www.juneauempire.com/movies.

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