The Losers (2010) dir. Sylvain White
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Jason Patric
By Alan Bacchus
If this was the year of the 1980’s Delta Force throwback which includes, so far, the dull as dirt, A-Team, it’s a failed revival. Perhaps the third film in this trilogy, Slyvestor Stallone’s The Expendables might redeem these other films, but it would take a miracle to overcome the stench of decay that is The Losers.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clay, the leader of a Delta Force/Black Ops/Green Berets-type of military squad who in the opening scene survives an assassination attempt by some other drug-supported clandestine organization. Despite being thought dead the force reunites to exact revenge on their betrayers, led by some secret information supplied by a really skinny tough gal played by Zoe Saldana. Their team includes the usual roll call of specialities, demolitions experts, small arms specialists etc etc all of whom contribute in a series of surveillances set pieces, ‘clever’ heist sequences and big wheeling chases and gunfights between the endearing Expendable-Loser- Z-Team and the bad guys.
Of course there’s double-cross and Jason Patric hamming up as the sophisticated baddie. Not even Ray Liotta would touch this one.
The film version of the popular graphic novel of the same name (which I haven’t read) doesn’t so much play as a Delta Force throwback as an over-the-hill mid 90’s Tarantino ripoff. The Tarantino-esque ensemble of actors spewing out some awful eye-rolling, overly loquacious quirky dialogue and, as the still above depicts, the slo-mo shot of the Losers walking towards the camera at a transition point in the film.
It’s no surprise the film is co-written by Peter Berg, the all style, no substance director of throwaway action pictures, The Rundown, The Kingdom, Hancock. Berg is not at the helm of this picture though. Stomp the Yard’s Sylvain White gets the gig. White is even more aggressive with his visual palette, throwing every stylistic toy at us in a attempt to be cool. Everything is overlit and overly colour processed. Swish pans punctuated by music stings transition every other shot with another. The staccato-like camera shutter thingee which makes action looks sharper is also constantly employed, and of course there’s a few ironic pop songs thrown in, such as Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ – which, thanks to The Sopranos, was already rendered old hat, again!
Unfortunately it all feels like hackneyed Guy Ritchie cinema language, but not the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels/Snatch Guy, but the Revolver Guy when he was ripping off his own tired works. So it’s third hand theft of Tarantino.
If anything we can admire the attempt at creating a fun action picture which doesn’t take itself seriously and exists solely to stimulate our eye and ear candy-craving short attention spans. Unfortunately with a style so overused and played out it’s too close to its sources to be ironic and not smart or funny enough to be an homage. Well, maybe an homage to ‘Smokin’ Aces’.
“The Losers” is available on Blu-Ray from Warner Home Video