The Losers: Comic Book Movie Fail
Gonna try to keep this brief, as I will also be doing a Free Comic Book Day wrap-up later today. The Losers (film) had to be seen in theatres, because purchasing a movie ticket is voting with my dollars for more comic book movie adaptations. And the world needs those in abundance.
Except, they should probably be GOOD comic book movie adaptations. Or good movies. One or the other. I’m not sure if The Losers was ever either of those things – a good book or a good movie. I haven’t read the source material *gasp* so there won’t be much commentary or comparison.
It was a lot like watching a 90 minute Lexus advertisement. The action scenes were choppy and frantic (well, at least in the first 15 minutes). Sure, you want to make action vibrant on the screen…but since when did that mean hitting the fast forward button and cutting to a new scene every 10 seconds? Yikes – the directing by Sylvain White leaves much to be desired. Dan kept comparing it to TV action sequences, and I’ll have to say, I’ve seen better on TV. So, that’s one element which did absolutely nothing for me.
The acting was pretty sub-par all around the board, which is disappointing and frustrating, because the screenplay itself had plenty dramatic weight and comedic inserts. I”m not sure who dropped the ball, or where they dropped it. Zoe Saldana is the new “it girl” for action films requiring the token female. It’s great that, as a woman of color, she’s getting so many roles, but it’s difficult for me to conceive of her as a believable action heroine. She is totally rocking the Angelina Jolie complex – skinny to the point where she risks looking skeletal. In what reality could someone who weighs under 125 lbs wield a rocket launcher? I don’t buy it.
Plus, she doesn’t ever achieve the hardness or grit demanding of this role. What about Rosario Dawson? Her body is muscled and curvy, coupled with the personality and grit required of such a role. She managed to hold her own quite admirably on screen with action hero Clive Owen in Sin City (a comic book movie adaptation which managed to feature ethnicity and gender well). It’s simply exhausting mentally to think that Zoe Saldana could physically rumble with any of the muscled dudes in The Losers and possibly hope to best them.
And what of the muscled dudes? Jeffrey Dean Morgan is attractive in a grizzled way, but there isn’t much emotion or soul in his character for him to latch onto. He works admirably with what is there, but never does much than fill up the screen and emit guttural statements. Idris Elba plays the typical angry black man role, with a neat looking scar running down the side of his face and a chip on his shoulder…but the grudge itself is sort of ambivalent for the audience. He’s involved in a totally unbelievable plot point at the end which I won’t disclose here. Needless to say, it was yet another thing that failed on-screen.
Chris Evans and Columbus Short brought sorely needed comic relief and soul/audience connection to the story. They actually appear to have lives (though the set-up was marginal) outside of the covert-ops world, and are the only two characters I tended to care about…though only marginally. They were both shot at some point, which could have added dramatic tension to the film, if the director had been capable of creating it in the first place. Either way, they stole whatever scenes they were allowed to have interesting and engaging dialogue in. For the most part my ass was warming the seat so I could get to the next few minutes featuring these characters. Oh, and Oscar Jaenada was there to save everyone’s bacon as the silent, brooding hispanic sniper. Can’t even remember if he had a line…
Jason Patric as the villain was no good. The only thing I’ve ever liked him in was Sleepers. He can’t hit any other level but morose and brooding. He has no comedic ability, and yet his stereotypical deformed villain is imbued with tons of humorous lines. Of course they all fell flat. A better actor/director combo could have easily made him the most interesting and amusing character in the film by a long shot. Sadly, as with many things here – it was a missed opportunity.
I also realized during an after film discussion, that I am no longer interested in supporting films with a token female character amidst a sausage fest of dudes. What worked with this film, is that it sported three people of color in lead roles. I can definitely get on board with that. However, there is simply no reason not to feature multiple females. We make up more than 50% of the population. And why does there need to be a trade-off? Do we always need to sacrifice gender or racial equality to promote the other?
It’s going to seriously derail my movie going abilities, and probably frustrate some people – but I cannot in good conscience support crap-fests like The Losers. Or The Expendables and The A-Team (neither of which even pretend to place a woman in a prominent or lead role). It is these kinds of flicks that indicate I should be grateful for the Zoe Saldanas and Angelina Jolies of the world, because at least we’re represented at all. That’s complete and utter bullshit, btw.
Being a cultural critic is all about understanding the messages underlying the creative products of our society. And if the action films currently being filmed and released are telling me any thing, it’s that my gender is neither needed nor particularly wanted in action films. Especially in ensemble casting action films because it is too unbelievable or difficult to be inclusive and equitable of more than a token female. Well – I don’t believe that either is the case. I think Hollywood sets up these constraints for themselves, and in doing so – loses big at the box office.
Of course, this complaint is one I’ve uttered here before. But simply because I’ve noted it in the past, doesn’t mean it’s gone away. I feel like, in the last 10 years or so – women have been losing big when it comes to all kinds of situations in which we could have equity. I’m not sure how much of that has to do with the political climate, but I don’t really see much improvement on the horizon. In that case, I think women are the biggest Losers around.