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An elite Special forces unit is sent to the Bolivian jungle on a search-and-destroy mission. But the team soon find that they have become the target of a deadly double cross instigated by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Making good use of the fact that they're now presumed dead, the group goes deep undercover in a dangerous plot to clear their names and even the score with Max.
For more about The Losers and the The Losers Blu-ray release, see the The Losers Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 16, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Sylvain White
Writers: Peter Berg, James Vanderbilt
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Jason Patric
» See full cast & crew
The Losers Blu-ray Review
Over-the-top action in a sun-scorched Blu bow...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 16, 2010
As questions about the viability of traditional superhero films become all the rage, adaptations of lesser known comicbooks and graphic novels are being scooped up and primed for launch. Don't like superheroes? How about a league of F-bombing super assassins, or a Canadian guitarist who has to defeat an American girl's seven evil ex-boyfriends to win her heart? Perhaps a decidedly underpowered, foul-mouthed every-teen who decides to fulfill his crime-fighting dreams, or an aging team of CIA veterans fighting their way back from retirement. Hollywood's latest anti-super adaptation? The Losers, a frenzied, self-effacing, run-n-gun actioner based on Andy Diggle and Mark Simpson's award-winning Vertigo comic series of the same name. While it isn't nearly as clever or edgy as its sexy swagger suggests, it does offer a fast and funny dose of Big Dumb Fun. And sometimes -- especially in a summer packed with less-than-thrilling options -- that's enough.
When a highly skilled team of Special Forces commandos -- level-headed leader, Colonel Franklin Clay (Watchmen's Jeffrey Dean Morgan), hot-tempered skeptic, William Rogue (The Wire's Idris Elba), quick-witted communications expert, Jake Jensen (Captain America's Chris Evans), family man and resident pilot, Pooch Porteus (Columbus Short), and unrivaled sniper extraordinaire, Cougar Alvarez (Óscar Jaenada) -- are burned by a mysterious CIA bigwig known only as Max (Jason Patric), they fake their own deaths and go into hiding. But that soon changes with the arrival of an operative named Aisha (Star Trek's Zoe Saldana) who offers to help the scorned soldiers locate Max. Risking everything to trust a woman they've never met, Clay and his men reenter the States and put Aisha's information to the test. Things don't go according to plan, but few things ever do. Swiping valuable cargo, testing their mettle against Max's go-to gunman (Holt McCallany), and uncovering a villainous Bondian conspiracy, the self-proclaimed Losers have to stop an international arms deal and exact revenge on the man who changed their lives forever.
Brash and brassy, The Losers never conceals its intentions. Shootouts are fairly bloodless -- this is, after all, a PG-13 affair -- but there's more than enough powder-keg 'splosions and tongue-in-cheek innuendo to make up for it. Working from a screenplay by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard, I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer) pushes every boundary he can, employing slow-mo revelry and loosing billowing fireballs wherever and whenever he can. Cheap sex and violence are central to the subsequent hijinks that ensue (even if their role in the chaos is superficial at best), but White seems to take his cues from videogames rather than action cinema. His kinetic gunfights call to mind any number of third-person shooters on the PS3, and his cameras drool over the Losers' assault rifles as often as they linger on Saldana's limber frame. The results are sporadic, to say the least. I had a blast watching the Losers trade verbal jabs and share energetic exchanges, and it's clear White's smartly cast actors share their on-screen team's chemistry and comradery. But for every sharp barb that pierces its target, an ill-advised one-liner falls flat; for every rat a tat tat conversation that left me laughing, a mangled bit of exposition left me rolling my eyes.
Tone is paramount in a film like The Losers -- love it or hate it, Wanted had a well-defined focus and a consistent voice -- but White and his screenwriters struggle to lock down anything remotely cohesive. A strange blend of sappy sentimentality and '80s-inspired machismo dominates the team's origin tale, bursts of melancholy are at constant odds with Pooch and Jensen's ceaseless humor, and Patrick, amusing as he is, so embellishes Max's eeevil sensibilities that it feels as if he belongs in an entirely different film. A home-brewed, CIA trained, environmentally conscious, temperamental domestic terrorist? Sounds hilarious on paper. In practice, it's cute, but erratic. The same could be said of the entire film. I can rattle off dozens of things I liked about The Losers, tiny touches that stabbed my funny bone and tickled the action-movie nerve that runs up my spine. When I switched off my brain and simply tried to enjoy White's madcap shoot-em-up for what it was, I was able to do just that. But through it all, I can't deny one cold, hard truth: for all its charm, for all its casting coups, for all its deliciously devious action sequences, the whole of the film lacks refinement, direction and soul. Even so, some will fall in love with The Losers. Others will feel I'm being too kind. You? Give it a rent and find out for yourself.
The Losers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Take a moment and open your window. Now stare directly into the sun. Welcome to The Losers' blistering 1080p/VC-1 transfer, an overcooked presentation if there ever was one. Not that it should look any other way. Director Sylvain White and DoP Scott Kevan crank up the heat on every Puerto Rico locale at their disposal, skewing strong and subtle colors alike, transforming shadows into black holes, and cursing Colonel Clay's Losers with ragged and flushed dispositions. Thankfully, Warner adheres to White and Kevan's intentions without reservation, and delivers a sound, technically proficient encode. Kevan's palette is vivid and voracious, basking in whatever syrupy reds and blazing greens White tosses in front of the camera. Blacks are exceedingly deep, calling to mind the bold linework and ink-splashes of the original DC comic, and contrast remains stark and stable throughout. Moreover, detail is fairly impressive. Granted, a small handful of closeups suffer from minor to moderate smearing (presumably the result of scene-specific noise reduction applied in post production, à la Star Trek), but textures are generally crisp and well-defined, edges are clean and sharp (no gratuitous edge enhancement here), and dimensionality and delineation are as convincing and revealing as Kevan's photography allows. Factor in a pristine image that isn't hindered by compression artifacts, aberrant noise, or other serious anomalies and you have a high-quality transfer sure to energize fans of the film.
The Losers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
What's that? What? WHAT? Yes, The Losers is loud. Crazy loud. Yes, it wears its ricochets and 'splosions on its tattered, flame-seared sleeve. But Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track proves itself to be up to the task, packing enough sonic punch and aural firepower into its ninety-seven short minutes to make the film's over-the-top comicbook lunacy seem positively quaint by comparison. LFE output embraces White's madcap violence with resonant thooms and shoulder-jolting booms, granting everything from missile detonations to raining debris menacing presence in the soundscape. The rear speakers aggressively immerse the listener in the at-times nonstop action -- fiery helicopter blades whisk overhead, machine guns erupt in unison and en masse, a strong breeze carries billowing smoke across the soundfield, shattered mirror shards crash on a hotel floor, and the crew's south-of-the-border nightlife presses in from all sides -- and serve up effective ambience from beginning to end. And the music? John Ottman's playful score and the film's bass-blaring hip hop remixes sound fantastic (despite being a tad overbearing on occasion). Dialogue is sturdy, crystal clear and intelligible as well... for the most part. Several lines are inevitably consumed in the chaos, and a number of others aren't as perfectly prioritized as one might hope. Still, it hardly detracts from the experience, particularly since the quips lost in the heat of battle never involve crucial words of wisdom or exposition. All things considered, action junkies will be most pleased.
The Losers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No Maximum Movie Mode, no Picture-in-Picture features, no audio commentary, no production documentaries... the Blu-ray edition of The Losers doesn't offer much more than a batch of easily exhaustible EPKs, a single deleted scene, and an extended preview for the latest Warner Bros. Animation flick. Ah well, at least all of the film's behind-the-scenes content is presented in high definition.
The Losers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Losers is a fast and funny bit of Big Dumb Fun, but its action and humor aren't as savage or savvy as they could be. Still, you could do much worse. Warner's Blu-ray release fumbles out of the gate with a shallow supplemental package, but makes up for any shortcomings with a faithful, finely tuned video transfer and an explosive DTS-HD Master Audio track. My advice? Give White's flashbang comicbook/videogame hybrid a try. At the very least, it should tide you over until Timur Bekmambetov's Wanted 2 blasts into theaters next year.
The Losers: Other Editions
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The Losers Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Losers Announced on Blu-ray for July - May 28, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced The Losers for release on a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack on July 20. This action movie, based on a comic book series published by Vertigo/DC between 2003 and 2006, stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoë Saldana and Chris Evans as ...
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