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The Losers

I'll admit it. Upon watching The Losers a second time, mixed emotions trickled through. (Let's not call it a flood; I didn't have that much passion for it either way.)

As a movie, it didn't disappoint me as much as it did when I saw it in the theaters, because I already knew the more grating elements and could focus on enjoying the work of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans and Idris Elba, or as I like to think of them, The Comedian, The Captain Human America Torch and Heimdall. And Zoe Saldana really tries hard in an underwritten role.

And that's where a different kind of disappointment crept in. After my first viewing, I picked up the first two volumes of Andy Diggle and Jock's original Vertigo comic book series. The appeal of transferring that to film is obvious; these books are gripping, edgy and a skewed reflection of everyone's paranoia about today's international intrigue. And heck, as the creative team admits in an included featurette, they meant for The Losers to be an homage to action movies anyway.

Director Sylvain White also saw the same thing, because in places his film tries to be a faithful recreation of the book. (That's not necessarily a bad thing.) But the Vertigo book is an R rated film, not a PG-13 one. To reach that fabled "wider audience," the movie had to gut the very edge that made it attractive.

Where the source material deals with political conspiracies and much greyer areas, the movie flattens out into a much more, well, stereotypical "comic book" story. Yet White keeps sneaking in pieces of that more complex story.

Diggle seems okay with it in the featurette, but then, that's promotional work. Luckily, much of that featurette focuses on their work on the book, and for that, it's worth taking a look. Also intriguing - and frustrating - is a deleted scene that makes it clear that at one point, the filmmakers did intend to hew much more closely to the source, with a different actor in the role ultimately played by Jason Patric.

With only that one scene included, we'd have to infer there's not enough to warrant an "unrated" version for those looking for it. What you see here is what there is - a friendly enough action movie full of pieces of other movies and a few really clever set pieces (lifted from the comic book). This doesn't even have commentary, but really, that's okay.

It does offer a taste of the cast's training with an ex-Navy Seal, and a behind-the-scenes look at both the action sequences and Saldana bonding with the boys. For fans of the comic, it might even be worth it just for the interview with Diggle and Jock.

The sound and picture also have a great transfer, so if you like flame, explosions, Zoe Saldana sweating and flame and explosions making Zoe Saldana sweat, you may want to pick this up.

Derek McCaw

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