by Del Harvey
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If you’re looking for a good action film this weekend, forget The A-Team and watch The Losers. This action movie is based on a comic book series published by Vertigo/DC between 2003 and 2006 and stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoë Saldana and Chris Evans as members of a Special Forces unit that was double-crossed by one of their government handlers. And, unlike that tired old television re-tread, there’s actually some character development and a decent story going on here.
So it’s not anything you haven’t seen before, but it is well made and will hold your attention longer than that tub of stale popcorn and that giant cup of flat coke. And that’s mostly because the characters have, well, character. They’re people, and not just cardboard stereotypes. They once were soldiers and fought for what they believed in. Then they were double-crossed and now they’re going to find out why because they’ve got nothing to lose.
The film opens with the five-man team deep in Bolivia, rolling into their mission to overthrow the local drug lord. At the last moment they notice a group of children have been rushed into the drug lord’s house. Clay, the team leader (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tries to call off the air strike, but Max (Jason Patric doing as good job as the film’s villain) says it’s too late, then cuts off all radio contact.
Clay and his men - Jensen (Chris Evans), Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) - have eight minutes to storm the house and get the children out. They do so and managed to get the kids out. But the extraction helicopter can only carry the children or the five operatives. Clay says take the children, but then they hear Max on the radio ordering the helicopter be shot down.
Realizing their death warrant has already been executed (“That‘s supposed to be us,” Clay says), the five go into hiding, becoming a part of the local culture. That is until the beautiful and deadly Aisha (Zoe Saldana) shows up, offering to smuggle them back into the United States if they help her capture Max. First, though, Clay and Aisha have a bang-up fight in his hotel room and set the room on fire. And the action is on, with sequence building after sequence, until the surprises start to pop up as they get closer and closer to Max.
While not a major comic series, The Losers featured tough, gritty guys doing some serious action, seeking revenge and retribution - just the kind of thing that makes a good action film. Which is why this film is so much fun to watch. Yeah, they blow a lot of stuff up, but they do it for a reason. Unlike that other film, which is simply an excuse for the studio’s pyrotechnics unit to earn their keep.
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Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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