Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"The Losers" is a classical action movie based on a comic strip. It does just enough nodding toward the graphics of drawn superheroes, and then gets that out of the way and settles down into a clean, efficient and entertaining thriller. It's a reminder of how exhausting this kind of material can be when it's brought to a manic level by overwrought directors. But "The Losers" looks, feels and plays like a real movie. There is another reason to be grateful: It's not in 3-D. You have to treasure movies like this before they're entirely eaten away by the marketing gimmicks.
Story, straightforward, no gargoyles. Five tough guys go on a mission against a drug lord in Bolivia. They abort the mission when they see a bus full of little kids arrive at the target. No luck. A voice named Max orders a plane to carry out a bombing run. The tough guys break in and rescue the kids just in time. A helicopter is sent for them. No room on the copter except for the kids. The copter is shot down, the kids die.
"That was supposed to be us," they say, regarding the smoldering wreckage. A close-up of flames still licking at a toy bear that was established earlier as belonging to a cute kid. Note: Whenever a kid gets on a copter in an action film and is told to take good care of his bear, the kid and the bear will go down in flames.
The tough guys rip off their dog tags and throw them on the flames. Now they're the Losers, dedicated to bringing the mysterious Max to justice. Who is he? They guess maybe CIA-Special Forces-Black Ops -- nobody knows. Meanwhile, they're officially dead and stranded in Bolivia with no passports and no money.