Thursday, June 24, 2010

These Losers Aren't Really Losers -- Except at the Box Office

At last I find a sequel-friendly action movie that actually deserves a sequel. So naturally it bombs out at the box office.

No wonder it is so depressing to be a movie critic nowadays.

The funny thing is I did not really expect to like The Losers that much. After all, I started burning out on action movies some time in the late 1990s. I remember sitting through the beginning of John Woo's Face/Off and thinking that the last thing I ever wanted to see was yet another movie in which some dude holds a gun in each hand and fires them both at the same time as if that had never been done before. And that despite the fact that Face/Off was a good movie compared to much of its competition.

And yet this movie won me over. Jeffrey Dean Morgan lived up to the promise he showed in Watchmen and the other guys were great too. Even the villain (played by Jason Patric) was memorable -- though the film's attempt to make a serious political comment by giving the guy an American flag lapel seems more laughable than effective. (Hey, it is not like we have not seen evil C.I.A men in the movies before.)

The one sore spot in the movie was the casting of Zoe Saldana as the mysterious woman who intervenes to help the group of ex-military men known as the “Losers” after a mission in South America literally blows up in their face. I usually do not have a problem with Ms. Saldana and I remember liking her well enough in Avatar -- a movie that other people either liked or hated a lot more than me -- but there seemed to be something off about her in this movie. On one hand, she speaks her lines well enough. On the other, she seems awfully thin for a femme fatale superspy -- even taking account of the fact that she originally meets up with the group by posing as a South American b-girl -- a profession not known for its aristocratic physiques. Indeed, she even seems thinner than Rosario Dawson was when she starred in Rent, the Chris Columbus movie musical in which Ms. Dawson played an AIDS-stricken stripper -- though I am hoping for Ms. Saldana's sake that that is just due to a lapse of memory on my part.

Oh, well. The movie ends on an emotionally satisfying note and yet leaves enough loose ends for at least one more sequel. But as I noted above, the film did not do so well at the box office so I guess we will never see that sequel. Instead we will be seeing even more attempts to ape Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight and other proven successes. What a pity.

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