Massawyrm says Jason Patric spoils every bit of fun THE LOSERS has to offer
Published at: April 22, 2010, 10:07 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
I’ve had my eye on Sylvain White for a while now. He’s easy enough for most folks to dismiss, mind you. With an early career festooned with a pair of direct to video camp-fests – TROIS 3: THE ESCORT and I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, both third parts to ailing series – followed by the mainstream definitely-not-aimed-at-the-critics STOMP THE YARD, he’s exactly the kind of guy folks love to sling poo at. While the films he was able to get are far from top shelf material, sitting down to watch them is a different story. Every single one of those films is better than it has any right to be. White elevates the material. He takes clunky dialog and makes it work, disguises low budgets with great cinematography and shot structures, and most importantly, gets good performances out of his casts. Even watching something like I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (from a series I loathed) I found myself liking entire chunks of what I was watching, despite hating it conceptually, admiring it instead for its craft. So when I heard he was taking interest in geek properties like CASTLEVANIA and THE LOSERS, I knew something was going on with this guy. He wasn’t just another for-hire director taking crap gigs; he was a talented guy taking what he could get to prove himself.
Needless to say, I went into this film with high hopes. Sadly, I came out mildly disappointed.
There is so much about this film that I really like. White has assembled a cast of top notch actors to play THE LOSERS. Every single one of them gets the material, has a genuine chemistry with all the other actors and most of all, seem to be having a great time. Their fun playing with all these firearms, vehicles and explosions transcends the screen and they share every moment with you. The movie is funny, fast paced and great looking. Every last moment you spend with the team is a good one. And if there is anything to love about this movie at all, it is the team.
And that’s really what a movie like this is all about. Complain all you want about the relative lack of plot, but this is a men-on-a-mission movie, and men-on-a-mission movies are NOT about plot. They’re about the team. THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE SEVEN SAMURAI – they’re all strung together with the flimsiest of plots that can be summed up without missing a beat in a single sentence each; these films are about the characters sent on those missions and how they interact with one another. The A-TEAM, upon which this is liberally borrowed from, was never about the mission; every episode was built around three things: how they were going to break Murdoch out this week, how they were going to get B.A. on a plane this week and what Face was going to be pretending to be this week. That’s it. Pepper in some jokes and explosions and now you’ve got yourself an A-TEAM episode.
Well that’s this. The plot is as thin as they come and you really don’t care, because it is more about watching Chris Evans goof around on missions with Columbus Short while grizzled vets Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Idris Elba trade machismo-laden comments back and forth under fire. Even Oscar Jaenada, who is pretty much assigned to simply brood in the background with a sniper rifle, broods magnificently. You feel the chemistry of the team and you want to watch them take as many missions seemingly stolen out of MODERN WARFARE 2 as humanly possible.
So why was I disappointed?
Because Jason Patric shows up and ruins the whole god damned thing. Playing Max, the evil mastermind behind the framing of THE LOSERS, Patric cranks the satire knob to eleven and seemingly thinks he’s found himself on the set of a James Bond parody. Imagine a prissy, forgetful, sarcastic Ernst Blofeld who REALLY thinks he’s fucking funny, prancing around to the confused stares of his hired Special Forces goons and you get the faintest idea of what Patric is doing here. Every time he’s on screen he sucks the very oxygen out of the room and he proves to be the albatross that condemns the whole damned production to idle with windless sails for minutes on end. He not only lacks menace, he’s laughable, and once the nature of his high tech McGuffin is revealed to the audience followed by the movie’s worst line, you no longer can take him seriously. If that weren’t enough, he’s one of those completely mad villains who simply murders henchmen left and right for almost no apparent reason, making you wonder why anyone in their right mind would work for him at all.
But I cannot put the blame entirely on Patric’s performance. Afterall, he didn’t write the script, and unless he adlibbed his entire character, there has to be a handful of people responsible for things like Snukes and random henchmen assassination. The moment he shows up the momentum of the movie is lost. You simply can’t care about five badasses tracking down the meanest, orneriest, sissyboy villain in the world, because they clearly exist in very different universes. One is a gritty, Special Forces testosterone driven universe and the other is a terrible comedy that should be populated with failing superhero wannabes trying to prove themselves to the real superheroes.
Fortunately, the movie isn’t about Patric’s Max. It’s about THE LOSERS, and about 30 seconds after Max is gone, you’ve forgotten all about him and can return to some really great scenes with THE LOSERS kicking ass. But something deep inside of you knows that Max will soon be back. And the movie is never the same. It’s one of those films I can’t wait to see the fanedit community get a hold of, in which they rip out all of Max’s scenes and keep his character entirely off screen where he belongs. Everything without him is really quite a bit of fun.
I still have hope for White, but unless it comes out that his hands were mysteriously tied on the content and direction of the Max scenes, I have to hold him the most responsible. The scenes are awful - mystifyingly terrible - and they ruin an otherwise fun, action-y treat. This is worth a look, but sadly not nearly as good as it could, or should, be.
Until next time friends,