The Losers

The Losers (2010)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short
Extras: Featurette, Deleted Scene, Promo
Rating:

Anybody who knows me can tell you that action movies are typically lower on my must see list. Given my love for action sub genres (horror, sci-fi, etc) one would think this a bit of an odd quirk. It's not that I don't like them; I am just rarely motivated to watch one. Action movies just seem one dimensional nowadays. I could take a moment to rant about Michael Bay, but we have heard that before. So the best way to move an action film higher on my list is to give it some sort of hook. Comic book movies qualify as a good hook. Rather than try to revive a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger plot with more explosions and a few television stars, comic book films are typically tried and true stories that deserve a film audience. Having been out of the comic scene for some time, it is always a welcome surprise to find a movie like 'The Losers' floating around. Based on the Vertigo comic with the same name, 'The Losers' are primed and ready to blow up Blu-Ray players…in a good way.

After narrowly avoiding an attempt on their lives, a group of commandos believed to be dead begin to live under the radar. The team consists of five men – a cool, calm collected leader Colonel Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the muscleman with a short fuse Rogue (Idris Elba), their family loving pilot Pooch (Columbus Short), silent man sniper Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), and communication expert/social skill lacking Jake Jensen (Chris Evans). Their anonymity is compromised when Aisha (Zoe Saldana) find the men and propose an offer too good to be true – track down the henchman Max (Jason Patric) who tried to kill them. Despite some internal conflict, 'The Losers' accept the mission and set out for an insane adventure.

Initially, 'The Losers' trailer didn't win me over. It seemed like 'Shoot 'Em Up' with a few more characters. Once the film started, those worries were set aside. I really enjoyed the characters and their unique comradery. Look at a film like 'Predator', the characters know each other, but have little investment in that relationship. They seem more like a group of guys and less like a squad. Clay and his crew are a team, albeit a dysfunctional team. When they aren't kicking ass, they are talking about (rather making fun of) Jensen's obsession with his niece's soccer team. We know that Pooch is an expectant father who is worlds away from a wife who believes he is dead. The added bond certainly sets the movie apart from other action flicks since the characters are given a bit more depth. I would attribute this to the comic book roots. With a 32 issue run, 'The Losers' has to have some character development to maintain a fan base. Fortunately, some of this back-story made it into a rather short runtime of 97 minutes. While back-story has never been a major piece in the action genre puzzle, it is a delight to know characters have more on their minds than grenades and bazookas.

Perhaps the best thing 'The Losers' provides is over the top, goofy fun. Rogue and Clay play things straight for the majority of the film, but Jensen and Pooch certainly deliver a few laughs. I love how Chris Evans, an actor accustomed to playing the pretty boy in movies, is believable as an awkward computer geek who has no skills with the ladies. He finds himself in the craziest situations and is almost forced to rely on the team to bail him out. Evans is only bested by a scene stealing Jason Patric as Max. Though he is the most unforgiving, bottom line boss EVER, philosophies like "It's like giving a handgun to a six-year-old, Wade – you don't know how it's gonna end, but you're pretty sure it's gonna make the papers." leave viewers wanting more banter from Max. The humor works well within the crazy action scenes and cements the fact that comic book adaptations bring an energy to the action genre that has been absent for a while.

The video presentation is amazing. With a 1080p transfer, the 2.40:1 aspect ratio pops off the screen with vibrant colors and great detail. Given the comic book roots, the film certainly accentuates colors to hold true to the source material. Black levels are very deep which help compliment reds and oranges from explosions along with the blistering hot Puerto Rican locale. There aren't many things to complain about with this presentation.

How does one compliment great video? By giving the film a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track to support it. 'The Losers' are going to take over your living room and let neighbors know a war is taking place in your home. The ambient sound will help place viewers in the action. Cross-channel effects and thundering bass are sure capture attention as soon as the film starts. Even with all of this action (and John Ottman's great score), dialogue level is surprisingly effective. Amidst the chaos, there is never a problem keeping up with the story as the front channels help balance sound levels very well. Kudos!

Would you like to know who the real losers are? The people in charge of extra features. After so many good things, this aspect of the Blu-ray is disappointing. Fortunately, most of the featurettes are in high definition. The first of these three is 'Zoe And The Losers' (5:41). The focus on the blue beauty from 'Avatar' is how she fit in with the rest of 'The Losers'. There are interviews with the director Sylvain White, Zoe Saldana, and other crew members on how great Zoe is in her role as Aisha. The comments are edited together with various scenes from the film and some behind the scenes footage. The meat of the minimal extra features is the 'Band Of Buddies: Ops Training'. Broken into three parts, 'Walk The Ops Walk' (5:41) focuses on Special Ops and the training involved to add authenticity to this aspect of the film. 'Transforming Puerto Rico' (5:21) is Sylvain White and his production crew tipping their hats to Puerto Rico and how the location contributed to the look of the film. Jeffrey Dean Morgan took a second to explain how the heat was a challenge for he and other cast members. The final piece is 'Going Deep Into The Action' (5:50). Aside from the comic book influence, Sylvain White talks about how first and third person shooters helped inspire the tone of 'The Losers'. Additional comments by cast and crew members compliment White with their own thoughts on the over the top action scenes. 'The Losers: Action-Style Storytelling' (10:09) mixes interviews, scenes from the film, and panels from the graphic novel to discuss the transition from comic book to feature film. The standard definition promotional piece, 'A First Look At Batman: Under The Red Hood' (13:46) takes storyboard art and mixes in interviews with key participants from the project. For what is basically a Blu-ray promotional piece, I find it a bit odd that this is not in 1080p. There is a high definition deleted scene (0:45) with Chris Noth. It is a pointless scene that took less time to watch than it did to write this sentence. Rounding out the disappointing extra features are a few trailers that play when before the title screen.

I know this sounds like a glowing review. 'The Losers' certainly has its fair share of flaws, but I happened to catch the film at a time where I was open to some farfetched ideas. The audio and video presentations are both outstanding. Colors seem to pop off the screen and the DTS-HD 5.1 track will give your speakers a workout so intense, they may be sore in the morning. The only real flaw with this release is the lackluster extras. The film wasn't successful enough to really merit a double dip, so it appears fans of the film should prepare for some disappointment. Once the price of this Blu-Ray drops into the $14.99 range, snap it up and prepare for a good time. Until then, a rental is certainly recommended.

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