Friday, April 23, 2010

Talk about “Losers”

So I saw The Losers the other night, and I want to say a couple of things right up front. First, I don't think that I’ve ever read the vertigo comic (there a regular DC Comic entitled The Losers several years ago that followed a bunch of WW II soldiers that I do recall reading, but this is not them — too bad, I think that would made for a better movie). Second, I really wanted to like this film (and on some quilt pleasure level, I kind of do), but honestly, it really is a bad movie, and I’m really sorry about that. Third, the good news is that it is bright, shiny, and lots of stuff blows up rather spectacularly (and there is a really pretty girl mixed in with the lead roles), so perhaps it’s targeted audience will simply not notice that it is badly written with incredibly stilted (need I say, “comicbook” dialogue).

Yeah, sorry folks, this one really does blow chunks. There is nothing new on the screen, everyone is a two-dimensional character with no depth, no soul, and no real reason to care, other than to see the next big explosion. It is sort of a throwback to the over-the-top ‘80s action films of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis, only not nearly as entertaining, or, well, nuanced. In fact, it is the epitome of the old Hollywood joke of someone watching an Oscar-worthy film and saying ±I can do that” then churning out the worst grade "Z" version of it, and not understanding the difference.

No, folks, I've never read the Vertigo/DC comic, but I can only hope that it it is written way better than this. The story is about a group of Special Forces soldiers who for no apparent reason, are betrayed by some über-slick Spook operative who seems intent on manufacturing a terrorist attack on U.S. soil (killing thousands), just so he can remake foreign policy so that it once again “makes sense” (Imagine, if you will that elements of U.S. intelligence precipitated 9/11 to rally American patriotism so that they can engage in a pair of wars to “Put the U.S. back on track.” In the hands of a Ken Follett or John le Carré this would make a compelling novel, but here it is just another badly-written comicbook movie.

Sorry, kids, the trailer gave me high hopes, but the film simply didn’t deliver. Jason Patric’s depiction of Max (the bad Spook, who precipitates all the evil in the film) smirks and mugs his way through this film as if her were in MacGruber (the up-coming MacGyver-spoof), while the rest of the cast are clearly in a different, more serious film (Commando, Predator). Needless to say, this gives the film a very uneven feel. As an aside, one of the previews shown with this film was for The A-Team, a big-screen treatment of the ‘80s action show. and even that trailer looks like a hollow mockery of this film, so you know that one is going to stiff.

Marvel just announced that — after its big-budget Avengers films (Thor, Captain America, The Avengers — all due through 2012) it will pull back and issue a number of films with second and third-tier characters that will be made with far more modest budgets ($20-$40 million) that will allow them to roll out several at a time, be a bit edgier in their feel and approach, and make the studio less vulnerable to the possibility of a colossal flop (think Superman Returns). I can’t help but to think that DC should have taken that route with this film.

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