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The Losers

DVD Five Stars
When I heard the story of The Losers being adapted to a film I decided to head out and get hold of the comic books to read before the film came out. The idea behind the story had me excited, as had the thought of Peter Berg directing, even more so when I actually read the really very good comic book series.

However the film took turns and dives and went through different directors that had me up and down in my excitement. Finally it landed with Sylvain White who was responsible for I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer and Stomp the Yard. I thought everything excellent about the comic books were going to be destroyed, despite the script carrying the writing talents of Berg and James Vanderbilt.

Now though, I feel I have to apologise to Mr White for the negativity I had during production, for having seen the film after reading the comic series I am more than delighted, I loved the film. I actually had to watch the film twice within two days as the first viewing the audio settings had been messed up, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time.

Some have complained that the rating gave them a neutered version of the comic book, and while I agree that the violence, language and the politics may have been left out to give an easier rating, I don't feel that the film has suffered for it. There are some key strengths that the film has in relation to the comic and they make up for any loss in these other areas.


Plot.pngTheLosers.jpgYes, let's get back on track here. The plot of The Losers isn't that tough. A team of special operatives are in Southern America to verify the presence of a drugs baron at his mansion before laser designating the building, with him in it, for an airstrike.

The mission goes badly and a mysterious character called Max double crosses them, leaving them for dead. Trouble is they aren't, and they set out to find a way back to the U.S. and exact their revenge on the man who set them up.


TheFilm.pngThe first thing you notice about the film is that it's truly embracing the comic book it comes from. To begin with the live action is blended with original and brand new artwork from the artist behind the comics. At first I thought that this would just be the titles, but it happens throughout the film, scenes melt into the comic panels when they complete, freezing on an iconic moment in the comic or a brand new created piece of artwork.

However it wasn't just the visuals blending into the artwork between the scenes that connected with the comic, everything did. Some of the characters are spot on in their casting, and if not entirely spot on, they are really a great match and we don't see Hollywood casting overtaking the original characters. Even complete sequences of dialogue are taken directly from the comic, and with them complete scenes.

Out with the drawn elements there's a great visual style to the film that includes the colouring which is, at times, rather bright and contrasting but without every taking over the screen. The clever aspect of this is that it gives a feeling of the comic colourising to the film itself.

I was hugely surprised at how well the film brought the comic to life, something you hear mentioned a lot with films but here it really was true. The style, dialogue, characters, framing, sequences of the story, and the feel of the comic are all there in the film, it's one of the closest adaptations I've seen without remaking the comic frame for frame as Watchmen (Filmstalker review).

It's not just in the big things either, I loved the little connections between the comic book and the film, from the tiniest of things such as the logo of the company that they break into, the designs of Jensen's t-shirts, his goatee, the scar on Roque's face, Cougar's hat, Clay's suit, and so on. There are plenty of little details that you won't notice the first time around either.

The characters and their interactions are really what makes the film and makes you believe that The Losers are so tightly connected, as well as bringing the great level of fun to the film which I think makes it beat The A-Team (Filmstalker review) for action-adventure enjoyment.

Out of the characters Clay and Cougar are really well cast and created in the film, but its Jensen that is the best and most fun, and he's the one that is most like the comic characters. There is a slight feeling that Chris Evans isn't that far from his portrayal of the Human Torch in Fantastic Four (Filmstalker review), but the comic timing and one liners really do add a lot to the film, and it's fair to say that Evans is a superb choice for the role. His portrayal was nigh on perfect.

Max was another strong character in the film, although he's rather different from the comic book, both him and his main plot thread that the Losers are pitted against, and while the changes range from small to almost complete on the plot line, they all work in the new film.

The new Max has a new agenda and attitude, gone are the deep rooted and more complex politics and in is a lighter and more simplistic one, money, power, and a new war to fund America's war machine. He's doing this by getting hold of some new eco-weapons, exploding one in America, and then selling the rest to some serious terrorist organisations who are ready to use them. That's a big difference from the plot that the comic book has, and with the change in plot comes the change in Max.

With the politics backdrop gone the character does become a lot more simplistic, however it doesn't become a failing of the character. Added to his character is a strong and sharp wit that really brings a few laughs to their scenes, and a complete disregard for everything and everyone around them apart from his own agenda.

The film is visually exciting with some action packed sequences, and a good use of slow motion that adds to that comic book feel and I found intensified the action just that little bit more. The stylised action was really enjoyable and was great fun to watch, all except that is for the big stand-off sequence at the end of the film, which for me went too far.

I know, you're going to say how could it go too far, it's a comic book film, well it does go too far, and coupled with a few questionable moments of CG, it just looks a little ridiculous and definitely not anywhere near reality.

This was an issue that The A-Team suffered from where all the action was hyper-real, a great film and a superb homage to its original source material, much like The Losers. The two films share a lot, and in that final sequence of The Losers they share a lot more. Up until that point The Losers had been a lot closer to reality than we'd seen from The A-Team, and that was something I liked about it. Sure there still is a lot of comic book style to the villain and his bomb, but take that away and it's a hell of a lot more grounded than The A-Team.

Now, quick sidetrack. To all those who love The A-Team that paragraph is not meant as a negative against the film, I really loved it, it's just that in comparison The Losers had a more reality based story, arguably it was far from total reality, but it was much closer.

I do think that without this final stand-off scene taking place between the airplane and the motorbike, and the idea of this eco-bomb, The Losers would have held this reality based stance much better than it did, and been a better film for it. I was drawn into the film much more than I was during these two scenes, scenes which did break the hold of the film for me.

Also that stand-off scene brought to an end a relationship that had been building throughout the film to a pretty weak conclusion. I shall say no more for revealing too much, but it started well and then just walked away from what had been built up to be a great fight sequence.

Interestingly though I thought that some of the plot in the comic book was way more unbelievable than the rest of the story, that being the whole master plan of the villain Max, so I was glad to see this pulled back and toned down for the film.

There were a lot more excellent scenes, too many to mention, and one that does stand out in my head was the bedroom scene between Clay and Aisha and the superbly visualised fight scene that ramps up the action and brings bags of style and doesn't over block the scene or ram the camera into close-up mode, and even sees the female character take as good as she gets.

One other scene that I have to mention is when Jensen breaks into the offices of the large corporation and we see Evans and Jensen at his comic best. The musical cue is funny to begin with but comes back to life perfectly, and there's even a nice little Matrix reference in there, meant or not, it just fit pretty well. In fact this entire scene says a lot about what The Losers is.

The ending of the story plays out well, leaving room for the franchise possibilities and also delivering a decent ending to the story you've just been watching. There's more however, and since the film has been doing such a good job of building these characters through the action and the story, it also gives us some strong payoffs for a few of them, giving us ends to some of their own story arcs.

It's nicely done and really does add to the feel of the film being much more than the action. It also shows us right to the very end how strong the writing is in the film and how committed to bringing through the complete story Slyvain White and his team were.


Picture.png2.35:1
The picture is bold and strong, filled with bright and unusual colours that bring the feel of the comic book to the screen and with the strong lighting and cinematography we get an excellent picture for DVD which upscales well.




Audio.pngDolby Digital 5.1
There are some great musical tracks through the film that power home scenes and sequences, and one of them is the two scenes with Jensen entering and exiting the office block. Perfect. The audio track itself is very strong and matches the strength of the colouring and the cinematography, bold just when it's needed. There's plenty use of the rear speakers and the movement of sound, and the audio explodes just when needed. It's quite a strong audio track that works well with a home cinema system.


Extras.pngAudio Commentary with Andy Diggle and Jock; Zoe and the Losers; Action Style Story Telling; Band of Buddies: Ops Training; Band of Buddies: Transforming Puerto Rico; Band of Buddies: Going Deep into the Action; Deleted Scene
Audio Commentary with Andy Diggle and Jock:
It's great that Andy Diggle and Jock, the creators of the comic book, provide us with an audio commentary, and they do hint that this may only be in the UK. However I would really have liked to have had a second commentary from the cast because it does seem as though they really enjoyed playing their characters and the film, and it would also have been great to have heard from the director too. However for fans, the comic book original commentary is a bonus.

That said however, the comic book creators are not really audio commentary veterans. While they hold up and deliver some good moments and insights there are a number of times where they end up watching the film and not talking to us. It's great, and also refreshing, to hear the creators of the comic so enamoured with the film version, something you probably won't hear very often in the genre.

Zoe and the Losers:
This is a short featurette that talks about Zoe Saldana and how she worked with the all male cast, particularly during the big fight scene with Clay. It's nothing exciting unless you're a real Saldana fan although it does give us some behind the scenes of that big fight sequence.

Action Style Story Telling:
An excellent look at the film with some direct comparisons between the comic book and the scenes with plenty from Jock and Andy Diggle, the creators of The Losers comic. We also hear from the actors, the director all talking about the adaptation from the comic book.

Band of Buddies: Ops Training:
A look at the weapons and the training that the actors used including the military advisor Harry Humphries and the military prop supplier for the film. It's an interesting brush over the aspects of the film, but something that looked deeper into the weapons they used, why they were chosen and seeing the actors during their training would have been much more interesting.

Band of Buddies: Transforming Puerto Rico:
We hear from the producers, actors and the director about the varied location shooting of the film accompanied by plenty of behind the scenes footage from the different locations. Again an interesting one but I just wish we had seen more from some of the more amazing locations in the film.

Band of Buddies: Going Deep into the Action:
Another short featurette which skims over the topic in hand just enough to be interesting and provide more than the average, but far from enough considering the amount of stunts and action in the film. We hear from the actors and director again, and more from the stunt coordinator.

Deleted Scene:
Oh I wish they had used this in the film and that the studio had picked it up for a franchise opportunity. This is a strong closing scene for the film that carries one of the themes of the comic book with it, something rather big about the bad guy Max. A good and satisfying moment that should have been post credits and should lead onto the sequel, come on studio.


Overall.pngI loved The Losers, it was a great film that did the comic book adaptation superbly well, in fact I think it's fair to say it's one of the best comic book adaptations to date. The characters are strong and there's a good deal of work building their relationships and bringing the audience to the quirks of the characters, plus there's a great deal of humour that fits in so well with the story and the characters but never has the effect of lightening the story too much.

There are obvious comparisons to The A-Team, and it's something that I've said time and time again myself since the production was announced. This had the potential to be the stronger, more grounded version of the A-Team, and that's how the film turned out, just as the comic book was.

The Losers is hugely entertaining for all types of audiences, whatever you're expecting from the film, action, adventure or fun and entertainment, it's got it all and plenty of it.

Strong scripting, superb casting, direction, cinematography, set design and audio all build to create The Losers, the harder and tougher version of The A-Team, the more real world version, and perhaps even the better.

Bring on the franchise.



UK IMDB Film Details
Buy from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, iTunes UK or iTunes US.




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Comments

Top review Rich! I loved The Losers too - glad to see we're still often on the same page when it comes to films!! What did u reckon to Let Me In? My Darkmatters review will be up tonight.

Thanks Matt. Not seen it yet, but having just finished the book I'm keen to.

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