I really wanted to love the film of The Losers because I really love the comic book by Andy Diggle and Jock (I surprised myself when I looked for a post on my blog where I praised the series, but there isn’t one; I shall have to remedy that in the future). Because the comic book was an intelligent blockbuster action film done well in comic book form, primed and ready for adaptation to the big screen. However, I don’t think the film did the source justice.
There is a lot that the film gets right. The actors playing The Losers are a perfect fit, and Chris Evans gets special respect for having the same hair, facial hair and glasses as his comic book incarnation. And Patrick Jason was fantastically over the top as the villain Max, even if the film seemed to neuter him in comparison to his comic book counterpart. There is a strong sense of a team, and the banter is good. The action is well handled and exciting, even if the ‘motorbike flying through the air and being shot and blown up’ seemed a bit silly – the director, Slyvain White, does a good job but has a slightly annoying habit of throwing in camera moves and tricks that make the film look like a pop video at times. There is also the joy of seeing Jock’s art in the film, when we are first introduced to The Losers on the mission that will change their lives – that was pretty cool, I have to admit.
The film takes a lot from the book (including the scene where Jensen uses his fingers to shoot the security guards, which is almost shot-for-shot from the pages of the book), and doesn’t change too much – I think the film-makers were a little scared of Aisha character (Zoe Saldana) and her Afghanistan origin, so went with a South American version, and dropped the CIA link; they also went with Pooch having a pregnant wife instead of young children. Essentially, it is a film of part of the book; I would have preferred the entirety of the series had been made into the film, along with the ending, because the ending here was too happy for me (and too saccharine for my liking, especially considering they are supposed to be in hiding, and feels like the end of an American cop show where they have to finish on a laugh).
The main problem I had was that the book was cool AND smart, whereas the film focuses on the cool alone; yes, there was cool stuff in the book but Diggle had put a lot of work into the research behind the story and it showed in the authentic feel and the reality it conveyed. The film doesn’t worry about, instead making sure it looks cool. I think that robs the film of some of what makes it unique, rather than an A-Team rip-off that a lot of reviewers thought it was. The film is still enjoyable and well-done entertainment, but it wasn’t as good as the book showed that a film like this could be.