Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Losers

"Am I the only one who sees the shirt?"

This is without doubt, the most fun I've had at the cinema since.... well... a long time ago. The Losers is an explosive action fest with terrific humor and a stellar performance by Chris Evans. You owe it to yourself to spend an evening at the theater with this movie.

So lets begin, as is so often the case, with the plot. A special forces team comprising of Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Chris Evans), Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short) and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) are on assignment for the CIA. Their target is some sadistic drug lord, whom they have tracked to his shady retreat in the middle of some backwater jungle. In order to eliminate the target, in an homage to Tom Clancy, is to use a laser guided missile. While lasing the target, a bunch of kids show up in truck, and the guys are no longer inclined to incinerate the place. However Max, the man puling the strings, overrides their ability to communicate with the pilot launching the missile and they decide to go in on foot to rescue the kids. Then, without spoiling the specifics, there's a big double cross and they are all left for dead. Cue your standard revenge plot and things get rolling.  

As I pointed out already, the clear winner in the movie is Chris Evans. He steals every scene he's in and manages to inject something really natural and likable into his character. You might argue that he's channeling his Fantastic Four character a little too much, and you might be right, but honestly I think it works in this particular instance. Having said that the entire 'team' of actors worked very well together, and were quite convincing in their portrayal of a group of guys who've been working together for a while and really trust each other. Morgan in particular was fun to watch as the leader of the little group of misfits, and seemed to enjoy channeling Hannibal Smith - yes I am also looking forward to the A-Team movie. Oh, and lets not forget Zoe Saldana, who couldn't be further from Uhura in this movie, which was good as I wasn't particularly impressed with her Star Trek role. Amazingly she seems to have pretty good chemistry with Morgan, which I honestly wasn't expecting.While I do like Jason Patric as an actor, he has done some really good movies over the course of his career (and yes some stinkers too), but I'm not really convinced he was the best choice for the role of the arch villain. He just didn't seem all that menacing, and his character was bat shit crazy. You have to be one hell of an evil genius to randomly kill off your aids and henchmen by the bucket-load every time the wind blows.

Now, let me take a moment to discuss some of the criticisms of this movie. First, folks seem to have issue with the cliched action movie stereotypes that are present in The Losers. Yes I admit it, they probably do cram almost every one of them into a little under 100 minutes. However, just because a movie contains action movie cliches does not mean that it's automatically a bad movie. I would argue that this movie works because of the cliches, I enjoyed it, the movies suspension of disbelief was maintained fairly well throughout (with the exception of the snuke, but I'll get to that in a minute) and the characters kept me interested in what was happening to them. So just because there were gun fights and explosions, things that happen in every other action movie on the planet, this is somehow a bad movie? I disagree. Point number two, once again arguments that the plot does not make sense. Virtually every movie made in the last fifty years is guilty of some kind of plot hole appearing. Sometimes these plot holes are minor and excusable, to the extent that you don't even catch them on your first, or even second viewing, and other times these plot holes are horific craters that actually causes the audience to stop following the movie for a moment as their brain tries to understand what the hell just happened. The Losers, without doubt, is closer to the snafu end of the spectrum, than the earth shattering "what the hell is going on" end. Yes there are plot holes, but when we live in a world that allows Sam to be resurrected by the robots in heaven, you have to put things in perspective. As such, as long as Mr Bay and Mr Cameron are still making movies, I give The Losers a free pass in regard to plot holes. Plus, every movie based on a comic book sacrifices plot at some stage in the game (even the Dark Knight - the best comic book movie in the history of the human race had plot holes).

I will, briefly, comment on my one complaint about the movie: the snuke. The sonic dematerializer was probably the dumbest thing they could have come up with (having not read the comic I have no idea if this is accurate or not), but suffice to say I didn't particularly care for it. Why couldn't it just have been a regular old nuclear warhead? Would that not have been deadly enough? Not to mention that every time somebody said snuke, I flashed back to that episode of South Park.

Aside from the snuke issue, I loved this movie. I highly recommend it to everyone out there who appreciates a good old fashioned action flick. Of our own little group, 3/4 people loved it and the fourth though it was 'alright'. I'd say that's a pretty damn good average, wouldn't you?

Final Verdict on The Losers:

Date Night

"Put your junk in reverse!!"

Surprisingly fun and entertaining! I didn't expect too much from Date Night; like most folks I figured most of the best gags would be in the trailer. Well I was pleasantly surprised by the overall entertainment value of the movie, the best jokes were not spoiled in the trailer, the gags all landed very well, the audience were all having fun and laughing along with said gags. Overall it was just a really fun movie with a great cast and a ton of laughs.

The plot (lets all remember this is a comedy, pure and simple) revolves around Phil and Claire Foster (played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey respectively) a middle aged married couple who seem to be stuck in a rut. When their friends Brad and Haley Sullivan announce they are filing  for divorce, it shakes up the Fosters enough to try and add a spark to their marriage again. This leads them on an impromptu trip into the city for a romantic dinner at a very exclusive restaurant. Without reservations they have no chance of getting a table, so they 'innocently' snag someone else's table when they fail to show up. One unfortunate case of mistaken identity later, and they are stuck in the middle of an extortion scheme and running for their lives.

Steve Carell was an actor I tended to ignore, at least until I saw Dan in Real Life and Get Smart (both of which I liked). After seeing those two movies, I decided Carell was worth my time, prior to that the only time I had seen him was in The Office, which I despise. Well once again I can say Carell was a lot of fun to watch, especially when coupled with Tina Fey. The two actors have great chemistry together and play terrifically well off of each other. I do like Tina Fey, she earned my undying respect with her Sarah Palin parodies. It was also nice to see Mark Wahlberg flexing given the opportunity for some comedy, personally I loved his scenes and I think he was a good match for Carell and Fay. I have to give a special shout out to James Franco and Mila Kunis who were especially hilarious in their brief appearance - keep an eye out for them when you see the movie.

Overall I found this to be a fun and entertaining comedy, it managed to keep the 'stupidity' level in check, such that while there were rather ridiculous moments in the movie, on the whole it stayed out of national lampoon territory. I loved the characters, the acting was great and you can really tell as your watching that everyone involved was enjoying the experience. So, Date Night get's my stamp of approval, I recommend that you see it either in theaters or later on DVD.

Final Verdict on Date Night: