The Losers, Sylvain White's new spy thriller based on a little-known
comic book series (and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, and The Wire's Idris Elba), opened Friday to mixed reviews. Not a mix of good
reviews and bad reviews, mind you, but a slew of reviews that seemed
conflicted about enjoying the film at all. For every word of praise,
there was a hasty qualifier; for every jeer, a grudging acknowledgment
of what the movie does well. In the interest of fairness, The Atlantic
Wire presents a rough sliding scale of compliments and insults.
- 'Gets the Job Done' The Losers probably gets the best reception from Chicago Sun-Times critic emeritus Roger Ebert,
who calls it "a clean, efficient and entertaining thriller" and
affirms, "'The Losers' knows what it's doing and how to do it. Sylvain
White doesn't have a lot of credits but he knows how to direct and not
trip over his own feet."
- Sort of Refreshing in its Shallowness The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips
finds a silver lining in White's all-text-no-subtext approach: "For all
its insidious slickness — the deeply saturated, massively bright
imagery comes courtesy of cinematographer Scott Kevan — the film is
easier to take than, say, 'Kick-Ass' or 'V for Vendetta,' both of which
came to the screen saddled with misguided pretentions. No pretentions
- 'Bombastic, Blithely Inchoate' Salon's Gene Seymour
is far from impressed, but can't bring himself to damn the movie
entirely. "'The Losers' struggles to sustain an antic wit that flickers
on and off throughout like a weak fluorescent bulb," he sighs. His
advice? Don't look for deathless filmmaking. Instead, "consider 'The
Losers' a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at your frontal lobes
with nothing on its makers' minds except total distraction."
- Best Lede of the Week? The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris
offers a thoughtful analysis of the film's eroticization of violence,
but he also serves up an unforgettable metaphor in the review's first
paragraph: "'The Losers' is another plastic thingamabob that's been
hoisted up by one of those carnival claw machines. The amusement it
provides is cheap, disposable, and hardly worth the number of quarters
you fed into the slot in a frenzy not to go home empty-handed."
- 'Douchebags, And Our Ostensible Heroes' The A.V. Club's Scott Tobias
doesn't suffer fools gladly. "There’s nothing wrong with style for its
own sake, but The Losers works so strenuously to be cool at every
moment that it can only be anything but," he writes. "Pitched to
adolescent boys—who are free to enjoy the sanitized violence and sadism
under a PG-13 rating—the film takes the form of an extended trailer
that never stops selling itself. What’s being sold is anyone’s guess."
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