The CIA isn’t our friend. We have known this for a while, and in recent years Hollywood seems to have come to the same conclusion. The A-Team, RED and The Losers all basically deal with this topic. Bravo Hollywood, took you long enough.
We saw RED a while ago and thought that it was a good movie. Great, even. The A-Team wasn’t as good, but it was still a fun movie.
And then there’s The Losers. The thing about The Losers is that I kind of managed not to notice it at all. Didn’t see the trailer, didn’t read any reviews, didn’t see it mentioned on the IMDb. Which is remarkable, really, if you take into account that I think Chris Evans is one of the most promising and talented actors of his generation. If that’s just bad luck or a spectacular failure on the side of the movie’s PR department is for you to decide.
The bottom line is that I had no expectations. It could have been anything, from Shakespeare (a good adaptation, not something like O or Love’s Labours Lost) to the biggest trash since Super Troopers. Well… it turned out to be more on the Shakespeare side of things.
The Losers are an American Army Special Forces team that, much like the protagonists of RED or The A-Team, gets screwed over by the CIA. This, the beginning of the movie, happens in the Bolivian jungle, where they have been sent to take out a local arms dealer. When they find out that the target area also holds a large group of children, they try to abort the mission, only to be told that that isn’t going to happen. And that is actually as far as I’d like to go with this review. Saying anything more would take away a lot of the punch of the movie. What I can say is that the Losers get screwed over by Max, their remote commander, and that they eventually go after him with the help of a mysterious woman named Aisha. And that’s where the fun begins.
The Losers can’t afford the star-studded cast or expensive sets of its two main competitors. At 25 million dollars it is a flyweight compared to RED’s 58 million or 110 million for The A-Team. And yet it can easily hold its ground compared to those movies.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, to me an unknown save for his appearance in Watchmen, plays the team leader, Clay, and he really impressed me. The same goes for Zoe Saldana (Aisha), whom I had seen in Star Trek and heard in Avatar and about whom I was still trying to form a coherent opinion. Chris Evans as Jensen, the team’s computer specialist, wasn’t as much of a surprise… we knew that he is brilliant ever since Sunshine. The real surprise, however, was Óscar Jaenada as Cougar, the team’s sniper. This Spanish actor is so unknown that he hasn’t even got a Wikipedia entry, but he plays his part with perfect comedic timing. I certainly hope that we will be seeing more of him.
The one weak point of the movie is the score. Which isn’t bad, mind you, just nothing special. John Ottman has done scores for a lot of movies that I love and they while they’re never bad, they also never have anything worth remembering, either. He’s like John Williams, only without the epic themes. One interesting thing to note about the songs that were used in the movie is that two songs by Street Sweeper Social Club were included. So the rest of the soundtrack isn’t only pretty, but also beyond a shadow of a doubt political.
And that’s what The Losers boils down to in the end. The movie is funny. The script is great, so are the actors. It’s fast-paced, the stunts are top-notch and the whole production looks like it cost a lot more than a measly 25 million dollars (yeah… I know, but have you looked at recent movie budgets?). What makes the movie special, however, is that it also dares to be political. It dares to say that maybe the CIA aren’t the good guys. It dares to say that it’s not only a few rotten apples, but that it is the whole damn system that is rotten to the core. And while it does say all this, and at that very eloquently and without mincing it too much, it never manages to lose its feeling of insane, manic glee at blowing stuff up. The balance is almost perfect and results in one of the most enjoyable (and quotable) movies of the year. Shame that it wasn’t more of a success.