When people think of comic book adapted movies today they usually think of super-hero films like "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man" or even the resent hit "Kick-Ass." But there are more than just super-hero comics to adapt from. "30 Days Of Night" was a horror film adapted from a comic, as was the sci-fi movie "The Surrogates" and the mystery film, "Whiteout." In order for the comic book adapted movie to survive Hollywood will have to continue to find new and different kinds of films to make from the plethora of ideas in your local comic book store. The latest comic genre to be taped into is the spy and espionage category with the new film, "The Losers," based on the popular DC/Vertigo comic book of the same name. The movie is produced Akiva Goldsman and legendary producer Joel Silver and boasts an impressive cast of actors who all come with their own comic book or genre film credentials on their resumes such as Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen"), Zoë Saldana ("Avatar," "Star Trek"), Chris Evans ("Fantastic Four" and the upcoming "Captain America: First Avenger"), Idris Elba (the upcoming "Thor") and Columbus Short ("Whiteout").
The film is based on the first arc of the popular comic book by writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock about a CIA Special Forces team that is burned by their handlers, left for dead and forced to seek revenge on the people responsible in order to get their lives back. Originally created for DC Comics in the '70s by Robert Kanigher as a WWII Special Forces group who fought along side other WWII DC characters like Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank, Diggle updated the story to give it a contemporary flair in 2004 when his new series was published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics that markets its books for a late-teen and adult audience. The film offers an interesting blend of action, humor and sex, which is impressive considering it's unfortunate PG-13 rating. The cast is what makes the film great and they are all perfect in their roles. The direction by Sylvain White is excellent at times and quite original. While the plot is something that we have seen before, and will see again this summer (the upcoming adaptation of the '80s action series "The A-Team" and Sylvester Stallone's upcoming "The Expendables" are basically the same movie) this film felt refreshingly original, perhaps because of its comic book roots.
The film begins in the jungles of Bolivia and introduces us to our heroes, a rag-tag elite United States Special Forces team led by Col. Franklin Clay (Morgan). Clay is the mastermind of the operation and William Roque (Elba) is his second in command and also very deadly with a knife. Jake Jensen (Evans) is the joker of the group, always wearing loud T-shirts and in charge of the team's tech. Carlos "Cougar" Alverez (Oscar Jaenada) is the team's sniper and Linwood "Pooch" Porteous (Short) rounds out the team as the man in charge of transportation. Their mission is to assassinate a terrorist but they come to find twenty-five innocent children are there as well. Clay wants to pull the plug but their handler, Max, tells them to go through with it anyways. They decide to rescue the children and after successfully doing so give them the chopper that they were going to use to get home. Unfortunately, Max bombs it in an attempt to kill them. Now branded the Losers, the group hides in Bolivia, unable to return home to their families.
One day Clay is approached by beautiful and mysterious woman named Aisha (Saldana) who has a proposition for him, help her find Max and she'll let him take his revenge on him. She claims to work for the same people that Clay once did and that Max still does. She believes that Max is up to no good and stockpiling next generation weapons in order to facilitate his own war. She wants to stop him and is going to use Clay and the Losers to do it. She offers their lives back in exchange for Max and after sneaking them back in to the U.S. through coffins they begin the hunt. They unknowingly steal a very important hard drive from Max that he badly wants back. Once they're revealed to be alive, Max launches an all out war on the team, while they are prepared to stop at nothing to take him down. However, Aisha is harboring a dangerous secret that could threaten to bring the team and the entire mission down. What happens next is combination of double crosses and unique alliances that you won't see coming right up to the very end as the Losers try to fulfill their mission, have their revenge and finally go home.
The script by James Vanderbilt packs in all the action and great characters from the comic while allowing them room to grow on-screen. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is making a habit out of starring in comic book movies after his brilliant portrayal of the Comedian in "Watchmen" and now with this film he is really allowed to fill the shoes of the leading man/action-hero and the actor performs well in both of those roles. Also excellent in the movie is the gorgeous Zoë Saldana who after the one-two-punch of "Star Trek" and "Avatar" is pretty much the "It-girl" of the moment. She is extremely sexy in some of her scenes with Morgan and is also pretty badass in the action sequences; overall she gives a very commanding and believable performance. Evans (The future-Captain America) is very funny in his part and I can't wait to see if he brings that same humor to his next role. I really like Columbus Short as well and thought he was very good in the film. But it is actor Jason Patric's ("The Lost Boys") unique take on the villain Max that almost steals the film. It is so unusual and borderline over-the-top that it is fantastic to watch and reminded me of one of the classic Bone villains. In some ways it only makes sense that Joel Silver produced the film since it is very much a throwback to some of his films from the '80s like "Lethal Weapon" and "Die Hard." In the end, The Losers is a fun, sexy and action-packed film that features great performances from it's cast and proves that there is more to find in the comic book world than just super-heroes.