Major motion pictures these days are built to be franchises; it’s almost imperative that they have a sequel, or at least be open to one. And The Losers certainly leaves it wide open. Here, in a public forum, I’d like to appeal to cooler heads at Warner Brothers and say: Don’t make one.
Don’t get me wrong. The movie is terrific. It’s fun, funny, quirky and action-packed; it retains the tone and much of the best material from Andy Diggle and Jock’s Vertigo series. Still…it seems like nothing good can come from a second installment, in spite of a final twenty minutes of this film that essentially begs for one. But it’s a bit like Kill Bill. Now, there are those who really dug the second installment becuase it was basically all action, all the time. I’m not one of them. I felt like all the story that was worth telling happened in the first movie, and by the second you pretty much knew what was going to happen, and the process of watching it play out wasn’t so clever as to merit another two hours of my life. As it stands, the unresolved-but-it’s-obvious-where-all-this-is-going thing really works for the ending of The Losers, endowing a crazy summer revenge/action shoot-’em-up with an arthouse sensibility that there was really no way for it to come by honestly.
The sequel issue aside, The Losers had few flaws. Frankly, some of the shine might come off it when The Expendables–a similar concept, but with a stronger overall cast–hits theaters later in the summer, but for now it’s safe to say that Jeffrey Dean Morgan really proved himself as a strong action lead. Chris Evans–soon to be Captain America–did little to prove he can expand beyond the comfort zone he’s developed in a handful of mediocre previous appearances, but didn’t do anything to hurt the film either. And while there were some good and bad moments for almost everyone in the cast, they all seemed irrelevant once you realize that in The Losers, Captain America and The Comedian went to war together.
The plot is a little bit like a hyper-violent episode of TNT’s Leverage (with all the stuntwork and con artistry that such a declaration implies, but without ever really establishing that some of the characters are capable of the computer work necessary later), which is odd because the movie is PG-13, so most of the violence is offscreen and much of it is played for laughs (in a sequence, the villain is being escorted down the beach by a beautiful woman carrying an umbrella. For almost the duration of her screen time, she’s never out of frame, as someone on this film really, really likes to point the camera at beautiful women and just leave it there for a while. When, however, she stumbles in her high heels on the beach sand and the umbrella shifts so that it’s not covering our villain for a moment, he blows her head off. It’s at this moment that she disappears off camera, never to be seen again, because the only way to get a PG-13 rating with as much violence as this film has, is to show almost nothing.
All in all, the movie’s worth watching. There’s no doubt there will be talk of a sequel, and while I hope they can resist the urge…well, let’s be honest–this one was so good that if they make one, I’ll go see it. And then probably kvetch after.
The Losers is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand from Time Warner right now.