Many of the current spate of comic book films have had various levels of serious explorations of their subject matter mixed in with their action and thrills. But The Losers doesn’t make any pre-text towards serious character analysis. Its sole aim is to entertain, and it does so reasonably well.
A group of black-ops agents in Bolivia tries to call of a covert air strike on a drug lord after they see a group of children being brought into the drug lord’s compound to be used as couriers for his product. The strike still goes ahead and the team, lead by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, barely manage to rescue the children before the missiles rain in. However, their victory is short-lived, for when they load the children on to the evacuation chopper that was supposed to take them back to the United States, it is shot down, killing all aboard. Knowing that they are marked for death and can’t return home, the group hides out in Central America until they are approached by a mysterious woman (Zoe Saldana) who tells them that they were set up by a man named Max and she can help them get their revenge on him.
With a couple of direct to video movies and just one theatrical feature film, Stomp The Yard, on his resume, Sylvain White seems like an unlikely choice to helm an action film, but he manages to turn in a solid picture. The character work among the Losers is strong. They have a breezy camaraderie of men who have faced down death together on multiple occasions and the script affords them each a couple of nice character moments. White’s action work is fast paced, yet never lets it get too frenetic that one loses track of exactly what is happening. He also pays homage to the movie’s comic book roots by having the colors on the film have a bit of pop to them without ever over emphasizing the look.
The film roughly adapts the first six of the 32 issues of the comic that DC Comics published through their Vertigo imprint from 2003 to 2006. Fans of the series, and I count myself among them, will note that some plot points and revelations have been shifted and changed a bit to allow for certain levels of narrative completeness required by a movie. That doesn’t mean that the film has a pat resolution. Its ending is satisfactory, yet open-ended enough that the filmmakers could go back and mine the remaining 26 issues of the series for more material if a sequel were to materialize.
The biggest change to the comics unfortunately becomes the film’s weakest point, though not necessarily because of the change itself. Jason Patrick’s performance as Max, the shadowy operative who seems to have incredible power in the espionage world, is a bit too over the top, even for the film’s less than deadly serious tone. His hyper delivery comes off as more of a distraction and certainly doesn’t exude the kind of menace that the part calls for. Fortunately, the rest of the cast manages to overcome the old saying about heroes only being as good as their villains to make the film a fun, diverting pop corn flick.