Things I Learned from Movie X:
The Losers
By Edwin Davies
March 10, 2011

The only thing separating me from her is the two minutes it's gonna take to kick your ass.

There is a tendency, when choosing what movies to write about for this column, to focus on terrible films since they are often more fun to write about, even if they aren't terribly fun to watch. In the interests of redressing the balance, this week I will be writing about a film that I actually kinda, sorta like, The Losers. Or, as I like to think of it, The B-Team, since its plot about a team of mercenaries who are double-crossed and set out to get revenge on those who wronged them bore certain similarities to another summer 2010 release.

Released a month or so before Joe Carnahan's big-budget remake of The A-Team, it almost seemed inevitable that Sylvain White's adaptation of the cult comic series would be overshadowed by its louder, shinier contemporary, and despite a great cast, solid action and an entertaining script, it only barely managed to claw back its modest production budget of $25 million at the global box office. Its failure may still be our victory, as we try to decipher The Losers and try to take something away from it.

I'm typing this in sloooooow mooooootion and it's soooooo cooooool

As a student, I used to make short films with my friends. These were never terribly serious endeavors - for example, one was a pseudo-Western in which I played a hermit who sought vengeance against someone who stole his stuffed toy monkey - but I would try to make them with a certain degree of competence. The main problem I had was that I always struggled to come up with enough material to make the films up to a decent length. I'd come up with a certain amount, but then feel like there wasn't enough, so I would throw any old dumb idea in to make it long enough so that it felt like a "real" short film. Bear in mind that my definition of the length of a "real" short film was about 10 minutes, so this wasn't exactly Barton Fink failing to write a wrestling picture; I was just really lazy.

Whilst watching The Losers, I suddenly discovered that I needn't have stressed over those films so much, because all I needed to do to get them up to an appropriate length was just to use copious amounts of slow motion. The Losers clocks in at a slim 97 minutes, of which roughly five minutes is the end credits, and seemingly ten minutes is slow motion. White takes any opportunity he can to stretch the film out and make even the most mundane action seem achingly cool and important. And he doesn't even restrict it to the action sequences; there's one moment in which two chickens are thrown into a ring from either side of the screen which is lovingly depicted as if they were staring in an all cockerel remake of The Wild Bunch. Crucially, he spends a lot of the time depicting the lovely Zoe Saldana doing things at half speed, and I'm perfectly fine with that, because without the slow motion her screen time would be negligible, as she would flit from scene to scene like some kind of sexy Roadrunner.

Chris Evans needs to become the biggest star on the planet. Like, RIGHT NOW

This was a lesson that I learned whilst watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but I feel that it needs to be reiterated at every possible opportunity; Chris Evans is hilarious and needs to be a superstar. In this film, he plays the team's hacker Jake Jensen, and his constant attempts to flirt with Saldana's character Aisha are delightful, as is the brio that he brings to a scene in which, to get out a situation where three armed guards have their guns trained on them, he tries to convince them that he is a super soldier with psychic mind bullets. It's one of the funniest scenes in the film and kind of made me sad that he has yet to become as popular as he deserves...

...which makes me kind of annoyed that the film that will probably turn him into a star is Captain America, a film which probably won't play to his strengths as a funny, likable presence. That is, unless he performs the whole part as Lucas Lee from Scott Pilgrim, in which case it will be one of the best films ever.

No, we need to Stop Believin'

Partway through The Loser - in fact, right before the scene that I just mentioned, Jake starts singing "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey as a means of completing his disguise as a slightly douchey delivery guy. It's a funny bit which Evans sells through his exuberant singing, but all it did was remind me how sick I am of that song. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun song, but EVERYONE uses it now, and after a while it loses some of its power.

This is particularly noticeable when the song in question has been used to create not one, but two iconic scenes in the last few years. Whether or not you like the finale of The Sopranos, that final scene is pretty indelible, and has become as synonymous with the song as Steve Perry's full-throated delivery and full-bodied bouffant. And, whether or not you like Glee, its use in the pilot episode is about as stirring and inspirational as anything the show has done. (For the record, I'm kind of indifferent to the Glee phenomenon. I liked the first half of the first season, but I haven't watched any episodes since the Joss Whedon-directed episode "Dream On", and that was largely because of my love of Joss' work and Neil Patrick Harris. Actually, my obsession with NPH might be getting a bit much. The other day, I, as a straight, single man, seriously considered going to see Beastly purely because I found out that he had a supporting role in it. BEASTLY! Fortunately, I came to my senses and went for the far manlier option of watching my Blu-Ray copy of Beauty and The Beast. Oh Belle, one day you will be mine!) Each subsequent use of the song in film and TV drains the previous examples of their power. It'd be like if every film and TV show, regardless of content or genre, decided to start using "Stuck In The Middle With You" after it was used in Reservoir Dogs.

So, can we please have a moratorium on using "Don't Stop Believin'" in films and TV? (And can someone please make a film starring both Chris Evans and Neil Patrick Harris?)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's definition of "dying badly" is a bit off

*Spoiler Warning!*

Late in the film, Roque (Stringer Bell, sorry, Idris Elba) betrays the group by leading them into a trap, which in turn leads Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to say that Roque's story will end with him "dying badly." In reality, Roque dies when a flaming motorcycle crashes into the cockpit of the plane that he is trying to escape, killing him in a fiery explosion.

I'm sorry, but that's not dying badly, that's dying AWESOMELY! That's certainly how I plan to go. Though I'd like to be fighting a grizzly bear, whilst drunk, and saving a basket of puppies right before the motorcycle hits, just to make it *that* little bit more awesome.