TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.10 “My New Best Friends” (dir by Jeffrey F. January)


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Oh my God!

Is it possible that we’ve actually had two good episodes of The Walking Dead in a row!?

Indeed it is.  In fact, I would say that tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was the high point of the season so far.  I don’t know if the show’s production team has been listening to the complaints that many fans had during the first half of the season but, with both this episode and last week’s, it’s hard not to feel that the show is trying to correct some earlier mistakes.

For instance, there was no Negan in this episode.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Negan can be an intimidating bad guy.  But, like many great villains, Negan is at his most effective when he’s off screen.  The big mistake that the Walking Dead made during the first half of season 7 was going for an all-Negan, all-the-time format.  With each appearance, Negan became just a little bit more cartoonish and, as a result, he became less and less intimidating.

However, though this episode largely dealt with people trying to figure out what to do about the Saviors, Negan was still kept in the shadows.  As a result, Negan’s becoming a threat again.

Tonight’s episode followed two storylines, which is a definite improvement over the plodding pace of the first half of the season.  Both storylines were equally interesting, though I think everyone’s heart was invested in Daryl and Carol.

So, let’s get Rick out of the way.  Last week, I assumed that Rick had come across the Oceanside community but it turns out that I was wrong.  (And that’s not a bad thing because the Oceanside community kinda sucked.)  Instead, this is a community of people who live in a junkyard.  In many ways, they’re just as ritualized and borderline ludicrous as Ezekiel’s Kingdom.  The only question is whether or not the Junkyarders, like Ezekiel, realize how silly their little community is.  Are all of their rituals designed as an escape from grim reality or are they all just crazy?

The Junkyard is run by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), who seems to have a permanent smirk and who speaks like an evil Queen in an Italian Hercules film.  But, and this is largely due to McIntosh’s performance and her chemistry with Andrew Lincoln, Jadis is still likable.  When she and Rick finally formed their alliance, I was happy because Jadis looks like she’s going to be a valuable ally in the inevitable battle with the Saviors.  Seriously, who doesn’t want to see Jadis kick Negan’s ass?

Of course, before Rick could talk to Jadis, he had to defeat an armor-covered walker that the Junkyard crew appeared to be using as a gladiator.  That was exciting and it’s nice to see that The Walking Dead is trying to think up new things to do with their undead.

But, ultimately, this show was all about Carol and Daryl.  Daryl has been hiding out at the Kingdom.  When Richard told Daryl that he had an idea for how they could convince Ezekiel to go to war with the Saviors, Daryl was all ears until he discovered that Richard’s plan involved leading the Saviors to Carol.  “She’s going to die anyway!”  Richard exclaimed.

Obviously, Richard doesn’t know Carol!

After giving Richard the beat down that he deserved for underestimating Carol, Daryl went to Carol’s cabin and seriously, their time together was everything.  For once, we got a moment of joy in this relentlessly grim series.

I always love the scenes between Carol and Daryl.  I love the way that both Daryl and Carol drop their guard when they’re together.  At its best, The Walking Dead has always centered around the question of how people can keep their humanity, even in the worst of circumstances.  Tonight, Carol and Daryl provided that humanity.

This was a good episode, one that reminded me why I watch this show in the first place.  Let’s hope that the rest of season 7 is just as good!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.9 “Rock in the Road” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


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Well, The Walking Dead is back and again, I am going to try to watch and review each episode for the Shattered Lens.  You may remember that I attempted to do this during the first half of season 7.  I reviewed the first five episodes of the new season and then…

Well, how to put this?

I got bored.

Seriously, I tried to make excuses for the glacial pace of season 7.  I kept telling myself that it was actually a brilliant narrative decision.  I defended the controversial first episode and I’ll continue to do so.  I enjoyed the second episode, largely because of the tiger.  But, after that, I started to get bored.  Each episode introduced us to a new community of boring people.  Each episode featured a lot of conversation but little action.  And what little action there was regularly interrupted by Negan popping up and screaming for half an hour.  As much as I like character development and conversation, this is a show about the end of the world.  There’s only so much time that I can spend watching Rick look depressed.

And so, after five episodes, I gave up on the first half of season 7.  It was just too slow and the show was spending so much time on what a badass Negan supposedly was that the zombies had become an afterthought.  Did season 7 really need a special 90 minute episode of Negan acting like a dick?  I still watched the show but mentally, I checked out.  And, judging by how the ratings cratered between the 1st episode (8.7 million viewers) and the 8th episode (5 million viewers), I was not alone in being dissatisfied.

But, in the break between the end of the first half of season 7 and tonight’s return, I’ve had time to recover.  Today, as I debated whether to actually watch the new episode of The Walking Dead, I considered that this show has hit rough spots in the past.  It’s never been a perfect show.  I wasn’t a huge fan of season 1 and, in later seasons,  I thought they spent way too much time at Herschel’s farm.  But, in the past, when The Walking Dead has needed to deliver, that’s exactly what it’s done.  In short, I decided to give The Walking Dead a second chance.

And, having just watched tonight’s episode, I’m glad that I did.  Rock in the Road was a good episode.  In fact, it may have been the best episode since The Well.  There were still flaws, of course.  As any true Walking Dead fan knows, this show has always been uneven.  The Walking Dead is a gloriously imperfect show but, at its best, it’s the type of show that can almost make those flaws seem admirable.  It’s easy to get frustrated with The Walking Dead‘s leisurely pace and rambling narrative.  But, ultimately, that leisurely pace has also led to some of The Walking Dead‘s most resonant moments.

Much like every other episode so far in season 7, Rock in the Road told its story slowly but, at the same time, it at least had a destination in mind.  Rick has finally snapped out of his self-pity and is now trying to build an alliance to fight Negan and the Saviors.  As this episode showed, it won’t necessarily be easy.  But, at least Rick is actually trying to do something!

There are several reasons why Rock in the Road was a noticeable improvement over the first half of the season.  Here’s a few:

  1. Action Rick is more fun than Shellshocked Rick.  As an actor, Andrew Lincoln is far more compelling when he’s standing up for himself than when he’s being grimly morose.  To be honest, I’ve never been sold on Rick as a leader.  When I watched him trying to build up his anti-Negan alliance, I found myself wondering if people were aware that Rick doesn’t exactly have a great track record as far as keeping people alive is concerned.  But, in the end, it didn’t matter.  Action Rick is fun, even if you know all of his plans are doomed to go terribly wrong.
  2. This episode actually had a few moments of humor.  The first half of season 7 was way too grim.  Just because the world is ending, that doesn’t mean people are going to stop being snarky.
  3. Ezekiel!  The first community that Rick and his group visited was the Kingdom so they got to meet King Ezekiel and Shiva.  Ezekiel and the Kingdom were the highlight of the first half of season 7 and it looks like that might be true for the second half as well.  I loved the entire sequence at the Kingdom, everything from Ezekiel’s promise to have an answer by “the morrow” to the wonderful moment when Jesus realized that he had forgotten everyone’s names.
  4. No Negan!  Well, that’s not quite true.  We heard Negan’s voice but, for the first time in a long time, we had an episode where the entire narrative didn’t have to stop just so Negan could launch another one of his insane gym coach monologues.  Like most great villains, Negan works best in small doses.
  5. That final scene!  I’m going to guess from the lack of men and children that those were Oceansiders who were surrounding Rick.  Rick’s smile provided a wonderful final shot for this episode.  When he flashed that smile, I realized that the old Rick was finally back.

I was really happy with Rock in the Road.  In fact, I’m happy enough to actually watch next week as well.  Hopefully, this episode will be the start of season 7’s redemption.

A Few Thoughts on The Walking Dead 7.4 “Service” (dir by David Boyd)


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I’m going to try to keep this short.

I like The Walking Dead.  Almost all of my friends like The Walking Dead, though there’s also a large number who have recently decided to abandon the show.  In general, we’re fans of The Walking Dead here at the Shattered Lens.

But tonight’s episode was a real chore to sit through.  After all the hype and all the promises that something big was going to happen during tonight’s special 90-minute program, Service turned out to be a big bunch of nothing.  Negan showed up at Alexandria.  Negan acted like an asshole.  Negan left.

THAT WAS THE ENTIRE FUCKING SHOW!

The thing is — we already know that Negan is an asshole.  We know that he’s a bully.  We know that he’s a sick and irredeemable bastard.  And I’m not sure that the show really needed to devote 90 minutes to reminding us about what we already know.  To be honest, the entire Negan terrorizes Alexandria thing could have been handled in 30 minutes.  That would have left the 2nd half of the episode for … well, something!  Something more than the same crap that we’ve been seeing since season 7 began!  I don’t have a problem with the show being disturbing, violent, or even depressing.  I do have a problem with the show being tedious and that’s the best way to describe tonight’s episode.

Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of neutered Rick.  During tonight’s episode, Rick had plenty of opportunities to do something to stop Negan.  When they were visiting the graveyard, he could have set up an ambush.  When Negan was standing right out in the open, he could have had a sniper open fire.  At one point, Negan even let Rick hold Lucille!

And Rick did nothing.

Where is the Rick who shot zombie Sophia without a hint of emotion?  That’s the Rick we need!  No more of this boring, teary-eyed, shellshocked Rick.  We need our old Rick back and we need him now!  If Rick can’t can’t lead his group, he needs to step aside for someone who can.

And Rick, for God’s sake, remember that there’s no crying in the zombie apocalypse!

There are only four episodes left before season 7 goes on hiatus.  I am sincerely hoping that those 4 episode will amount to something than just four hours of Negan taunting Rick.

At the very least, we need at least one more episode with King Ezekiel and Shiva…

 

 

A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.3 “The Cell” (dir by Alrick Riley)


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I’ve been on twitter, reading everyone’s reactions to the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and I’ve noticed a definite pattern.

People who read the comic along with watching the TV show seemed to be pretty excited by tonight’s episode.  They were happy that Dwight (played by Austin Amelio) and his wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista), were prominently featured.  I mean, make no mistake.  This episode may have technically been a Daryl episode but, for the most part, it was pretty much set up to highlight Dwight and Sherry.

Of course, it was also set up to give us some insight into the way that Negan runs things.  We got to see the Sanctuary, the home base of the Saviors, and it’s not really that surprising that it turned out to be the testosterone-fueled Hellhole of everyone’s nightmares.  On the plus side, the Sanctuary has power.  It has music.  It has a TV, though there doesn’t appear to be any good programming.  Is a world where the only available entertainment features Tony Danza a world worth saving?

And Negan — well, Negan’s still an asshole.  He’s still strutting around with Lucille, bullying everyone that he comes in contact with.  Obviously, we were meant to compare Negan’s leadership style to King Ezekiel’s.  Ezekiel rules through fantasy.  Negan rules through fear.  No wonder Gordon tried to leave.

(Gordon’s execution would have been far more powerful if we had more of an idea of who Gordon was meant to be.  Then again, that scene was more about Dwight than Gordon.)

Negan is also trying to brainwash Daryl and it’s obvious that Dwight is more than a little jealous.  I liked the fact that Dwight didn’t seem to know if he wanted to kill Daryl or beg Daryl to be his best friend.  Watching Negan and Daryl, I couldn’t help but think about Merle and the Governor.  Of course, that didn’t end well as far as the Dixon family is concerned…

As I said, those who read the comic appeared to enjoy tonight’s episode.  On the other hand, viewers who weren’t familiar with the comic seemed to be a bit disappointed.  On twitter, they complained that tonight’s episode was too slow and anti-climatic.  Interestingly enough, a lot of them said the same thing about last week’s episode with King Ezekiel.

Myself, I have to say that The Cell didn’t do much for me.  Last week’s episode may have been slow but, after all the shit that went down in the premiere, I was kind of thankful for a slow episode that featured at least a little humor.  But with The Cell, The Walking Dead essentially followed one slow episode with another slow episode, the difference being that this one didn’t really accomplish much.

As I watched day-to-day life in the Sanctuary, I couldn’t help but think about Lost.  You remember when Jack, Sawyer, and Kate ended up spending a handful of episodes living with The Others?  The society of the Others was genuinely interesting.  You could actually imagine watching an alternate version of Lost where the Others would have been the main characters and the Oceanic passengers would have been the rarely seen villains.

You really can’t say the same of The Saviors and life at Sanctuary.  The Saviors may be scary and menacing and dangerous but they’re also more than a little boring.  I’ve praised Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance in the past but, with tonight’s episode, I started to wonder if there was anything more to Morgan’s Negan than what we’ve already seen.  Yes, Negan’s a bully.  Yes, he’s an asshole.  Yes, I’d love to see him devoured by a walker.  But I could say the same about a lot of the characters on The Walking Dead.  What is it about the television version of Negan that sets him apart from every other wannabe dictator on this show?

To a certain extent, it reminded me of when Colin Hanks showed up as a serial killer on Dexter.  I watched him and I thought, “Yeah, he’s pretty fucked up but who isn’t on this show?”  At this point, just being fucked up isn’t enough.

What the show needs is one episode — just one — where Negan isn’t bellowing and threatening everyone that he sees.  We need one episode where we can see who Negan was before the zombie apocalypse and who he is now when he’s not hiding behind Lucille.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a seriously talented actor and he’s capable of a lot more than just playing a one-dimensional villain.

I hope that The Walking Dead eventually gives him a chance to show everyone how true that is.

I do want to end this review on a positive note so I will say two things:

  1. This episode was directed by Alrick Riley, who previously directed several episodes of an intriguing British spy show called MI5 (a.k.a. Spooks).
  2. That scene with the walker falling out of the sky totally freaked me out!

 

 

A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


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Well, we can all breathe again.

Tonight saw the premiere of the seventh season of The Walking Dead.  All this summer, we’ve been wondering who Negan would end up killing with Lucille, his barbed wire-covered bat.  Glenn seemed to be the obvious candidate, particularly since he had already miraculously (and, some would say, implausibly) escaped certain death on the show and he was also Negan’s victim in the comic.

However, none of us wanted it to be Glenn.  Ever since the show began, Glenn has been one of the most popular characters.  In many ways, he served as a stand-in for the audience.  Sure, everyone loves Darryl and Michonne but Glenn …. well, there was just something special about Glenn.  Whereas both Darryl and Michonne were born warriors and Rick Grimes was a former police officer who had been trained to think quickly in a crisis, Glenn was just a pizza delivery boy.  He was the guy who, by all logic, should not have survived the first week of the zombie apocalypse.  And yet, he did survive.  For sic seasons, we watched as Glenn grew and developed as a character.  When he “married” Maggie, it was more than just a plot twist.  It was proof that, even in the worst of circumstances, love could survive.

So, a lot of us told ourselves that there was no way that Glenn would die.  We told ourselves that Glenn was too popular of a character.  We mentioned all the other times that the show had led us to believe it was going to follow the plot of the comics just to suddenly go in a totally opposite direction.

Myself, I believe that Negan would kill Abraham.  Abraham seemed like the obvious choice, popular enough that his death would mean something but, at the same time, not so popular that the show would risk losing any viewers by killing him.

I was so confident in my prediction that I ever decided to make it official:

And I was right.

But I was also very wrong.

It took about 25 minutes for tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead to get around to showing us who Negan killed.  The episode really pulled out the suspense and I have to admit that I was worried they were going to go the entire hour without letting us know for sure.  (I remember Lost used to do that and it would drive me crazy.)  And when we saw Negan beat Abraham to death, I think a lot of people said, “Poor Abraham but at least it wasn’t Glenn…”

And then, a few minutes later, Darryl charged Negan and, after Darryl was subdued, Negan responded by beating Glenn to death.

(As Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who was so chillingly good as Negan, pointed out on The Talking Dead, Glenn would not have died if not for Darryl’s actions.)

It was hard to watch.  You can say that it’s just a TV show and that there are bigger things to worry about than the fate of a fictional character but, at that moment, it felt as if I was watching an old friend die.  For seven years, Glenn has been one of the show’s constants.  He’s been one of the few stable elements of The Walking Dead.  He’s always been there.

And now, he’s not.

While we were all still trying to recover from the deaths of both Glenn and Abraham, Negan was busy breaking Rick.  Rick has always been the leader.  He’s always been the guy who you can count on to ultimately do whatever needed to be done to protect the group.  Rick was the one who stepped up to shoot Sophia when she came out of that barn.  Rick was the one who, no matter how bad things got, everyone felt they could depend on.  In a world where it was often hard to find meaning or morality, Rick has always stood for something more than just ruthless survival.  And yet, last night, we saw a totally defeated Rick.  Not only did Rick watch helplessly as two of his people were brutally murdered but he was also nearly forced to chop off Carl’s hand.

(I know that a lot of viewers — myself included — were expecting Negan to chop off Rick’s hand in the RV.)

As I watched that scene with Rick and Carl, I couldn’t help but think about the biblical tale of Abraham and Isaac, a story that I have always hated.  God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son and he waited until Abraham raised the knife to say, “Stop, it was just a test of your faith.”  (Abraham is so overjoyed that he never stops to ask, “What type of God would ask me to do something so terrible in the first place?”)  When Negan ordered Rick to chop off Carl’s hand and then stopped him only after he raised the hatchet, it was Negan’s way of saying that, for all intents and purposes, he is God.

Again, it wasn’t easy to watch.  But at least Maggie doesn’t appear to be ready to surrender.  Rick may have been broken.  Darryl may now be a hostage.  But Maggie is going to keep fighting.

Finally, I have to say that, after watching all of this, I am so incredibly thankful for Chris Hardwick and Talking Dead.  When Chris opened the show by promising that we were going to talk through what we had just witnessed, he wasn’t kidding.  Tonight’s episode of Talking Dead felt like a televised group therapy session.  It helped to see Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz on that stage with the rest of the cast.  After we just watched, we needed to see them all together.  We needed to see them laughing and joking and crying and hugging.  We needed that catharsis.

Talking Dead served as a reminder that it was just a TV show and nobody had really died.

So, why do so many of us still feel like we just said goodbye to a member of our family?

One final thought:

RIP, Abraham and Glenn

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What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #126: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Part 2 (dir by Laurie Collyer)


On Sunday night, I watched Part 2 of Lifetime’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.

The Secret Life of Marilyn MonroeWhy Was I Watching It?

I was watching it because I watched Part One on Saturday and I absolutely loved it!  I wanted to see how Part Two would deal with the second half of Marilyn’s life.  Would it explore the mysteries that still surround her death?  Would the Kennedys make an appearance?  Who would come off worse — Joe DiMaggio or Arthur Miller?

What Was It About?

Part Two of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe deals with her life after she became a star.  We watch as the increasingly fragile Marilyn marries the physically abusive Joe DiMaggio (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the mentally abusive Arthur Miller (Stephen Bogaert).  (Seriously, neither Joe nor Arthur comes across positively in this film.)  Marilyn continues to deal with her own fears that she’ll go crazy like her mother (Susan Sarandon).  She has a brief moment of hope when she meets John F. Kennedy, though the film is deliberately vague about the details of their relationship.  Ultimately, she ends up having a breakdown and is hospitalized against her will.  By the end of the film, it seems like she’s found some hope for the future but then, we see her tossing and turning in bed and clumsily reaching for a bottle of pills…

What Worked?

Kelli Garner’s performance as Marilyn was just impressive here as it was during the first part of the film.

What Did Not Work?

Sadly, Part Two just wasn’t as good as Part One.  To a large extent, Part One worked because of the emphasis on Marilyn’s relationships with her mom (Susan Sarandon) and her adopted aunt Grace (Emily Watson).  In Part Two, those relationships were overshadowed by Marilyn’s unhappy marriages to DiMaggio and Miller.  As a result, the film lost some of its focus and it often seemed to be meandering from one unhappy scene to another until Marilyn’s final night.

Also, I was disappointed that the film was so vague in its approach to Marilyn’s relationship with the Kennedys.  Listen, everyone knows that Marilyn had an affair with both Jack and Bobby Kennedy.  The film tried to create some ambiguity about this point, never actually showing either Kennedy brother on screen and instead, just having Marilyn talk about them.  Rather unfairly, this created the impression that both affairs could have been another one of Marilyn’s delusions.  Quite frankly, Marilyn Monroe deserves better than that.

“Oh My God!  Just like me!” Moments

Just as with Part One, there were several.  Kelli Garner humanized her iconic role to such an extent that I think everyone watching could relate to her.  I’ll just say that I’ve known my DiMaggios and my Millers and leave it at that.

Lessons Learned

Fame does not equal happiness.

In the end, Part Two was not as good as Part One but, overall, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe was worth the 4 hours it took to watch it.  It did a great job of recreating the Hollywood of the past and Kelli Garner gave a great performance.  Since this is Lifetime that we’re talking about, I imagine both parts will be rerun frequently.  If you missed them the first time, don’t make the same mistake twice!

Review: The Losers (dir. by Sylvain White)


There’s something to be said about DC’s attempt to try and take some of the thunder away from Marvel as the two battle it out over the hearts and wallets of the film-going public. With the exception of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight DC’s properties has lagged behind that of Marvel when it comes to being adapted to the big-screen. Some would say that this is a good thing in that DC hasn’t flooded the market with too many comic book titles adapted to film. Marvel’s track record has been very good but they’ve also had some very awful comic book-to-film titles which at times almost derails this Golden Age of comic book films. But even with the misses Marvel has released they’ve done a good job of keeping their name brand in the film public’s eye.  DC hasn’t been very good at this but this may be changing soon.

While not part of the DC Universe proper the Vertigo line of titles do belong under the DC umbrella. Vertigo has always been the more mature-oriented publishing arm of DC with well-known and critically-acclaimed writers such as Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore being the top names releasing titles under that aegis. There’s already been several films based-off of the Vertigo line with Constantine and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen being two. Two examples which haven’t gone over well with comic book fans and film-goers. We now have another title from DC/Vertigo which hopes to break that cycle of mediocrity. The Losers (written by Andy Diggle) as directed by Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard) is a funny and exciting action-comedy which definitely had a chance to be one of the great comic book films if it actually had a coherent storyline.

The Losers is pretty much the name of the special-ops covert team the audience gets to know from start to finish. The basic premise to this film is actually straight out of late 80’s and early 90’s action films. A team of badass operatives gets betrayed during a covert mission by unknown parties who may or may not be working for the very organization the team has worked loyally for. For this particular reiteration of that action flick staple the team literally calls themselves the Losers and their betrayal occurs while in a secret mission inside Bolivia to take out a narco-terrorist. While their mission to take out this bad man does happen it does so with some new wrinkles such as first saving 25 innocent Bolivian children before the airstrike called in by them happens within 8 minutes. This eventual betrayal now forces the Losers’ commander, a military colonel called Clay (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), to take his 5-man team deep under while convincing their CIA masters that they died during the operation.

The rest of the film revolves around the Losers being discovered by a third-party as still being alive and given a choice. The choice being to remain under the Agency’s radar, stay dead and in Bolivia or take on this third-party’s mission to take out the very man who betrayed them, get back their good name and return to their families or, for some, their old lives. Heading up this mysterious benefactor is the one and lovely Zoe Saldana (fresh-off a little flick called Avatar). She’s pretty much the only female of note in the whole film. One would think she’s the token female, but she’s more than capable of holding her own in a testosterone-fueled action-comedy.

What would an action-comedy about betrayed badass special-ops guys (and gal) without a bad guy to match. In The Losers we get the betrayer of the team in Max (played with an almost James Bond villainish flair by Jason Patric). He’s the one who gave them the team their last official mission in Bolivia and the same one to frame them for the a heinous crime they didn’t commit. To say that Max is over-the-top in terms of on-screen villainy would be an understatement. While the character doesn’t prance or growls his way through the film he does have a certain je ne sais quois about him that doesn’t pigeonhole him as your typical uber-bad guy.

One would think that with such a simple enough revenge and wronged team-on-a-mission set-up it would be quite an easy story to create and film around. I would have to say that the screenplay adapting the first two volumes of the original source material had left much to be desired. While it wasn’t a total waste there wasn’t enough of a story beyond creating set-pieces for the characters to either shoot at and blow stuff and people up, Max to show the audience how evil he really is, or show Saldana’s and Morgan’s character together either fighting or getting it on. The whole script used almost seemed like it was culled from a much bigger one.

What we do see on the screen was exciting and funny enough that it helps cover up enough of that major flaw of a non-existent story. In fact, I would say that the film behaved almost like an extended, well-shot and well-casted pilot for a new tv action series. It’s almost what I would expect USA Network’s excellent spy-comedy Burn Notice to look like if shot on 35mm, given a multi-million dollar budget and shot on exotic locations. The film definitely would’ve benefited from an additional 20-30 more minutes to help add muscle to the story. The fact of the matter is that the story actually was able to flesh out the main characters enough that they were all quite distinct in personalities without ever becoming cardboard copy caricatures.

It’s the chemistry between the ensemble cast which shines in The Losers. While Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), Zoe Saldana and Jason Patric were the three main leads (with each of them pushing their own agenda over the other two) the rest of the players were very good in their roles. Idris Elba (The Wire) as Clay’s second-in-command Roque does a very good job of balancing out the cool-headed team leader. his name may not be spelled like it but he definitely was the rogue factor in the whole film. While the team itself wasn’t an amoral team of killers and expert covert ops operators it was the character Roque who came closest and Elba played him with enough menace that one might’ve wondered why he was actually still with the team instead of going off on his own. Columbus Short as driver extraordinaire and Óscar Jaenada as Cougar (got a hilarious reaction from Saldana’s character upon hearing of the name) the expert marksman who never seems to miss are good in their roles as well, but the one who stole every scene he was in was Chris Evans as Jensen who filled the role of team tech and communications expert.

Chris Evans is definitely not a novice when it comes to being part of a comic book film. He’s already done two portraying the wise-ass brother in the Fantastic Four franchise and already tapped to play one of Marvel Comics’ most iconic characters in Captain America. His character portrayal of the Losers’ Jensen is more akin to his work as Johnny Storm in the FF franchise. He was the funniest thing and most lively character in The Losers. He pretty much got the best dialogue and his comedic timing was on point. He definitely kept the film from leaning towards the too-serious side of the equation. His singing of Journey’s classic motivational song, “Don’t Stop Believing”, was one of the funniest moments in the film and the song itself ended up being the closing credits musical choices which I thought was quite appropriate.

Sylvain White’s work in this film I would say would constitute as being good and, at times, bordering on being very good. There were a few stylistic choices by White which elevated the action sequences into comic book territory such as sudden pauses in the action to capture a good kill or scene like one would see in a panel of a comic book page. Even some of the camera angles mimicked those angles used by comic book artists to create a more dynamic and stylized point of view of the scene. I thought his use of the slo-mo shots of the team walking towards the screen was done overmuch. It was good to show the team together for the first time with something exploding in the background, but just once would’ve been enough. His background as a music video director showed too much in The Losers that at times it became too distracting. Fortunately, it didn’t detract from the fun everyone seemed to be having on-screen. There’s talent in White as a filmmaker if he would just trust in his growing sense as a feature filmmaker and not fall back on his music video directing days. I did like the choice of using the original comic book art to highlight the starting and ending credits of the film. Artist Jock’s artwork was great to see on the screen.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with The Losers. I enjoyed the film despite a glaring flaw in the story (which was really nowhere to be seen). The film took the comic book film staple of “origin story” a bit too far and made the whole production look like a glorified and high-budgeted tv pilot for an action series. In fact, if DC and Warner Brothers wanted to make a series out of The Losers they already have said pilot in the can and just continue things from there. What really saves this film from becoming a huge disappointment was the cast and how much fun they had on-screen. The action scenes were not great but they had life in them and when propped up by some of the comedic stylings of one Chris Evans made the sequences enjoyable. While The Losers will not be anything to scare Marvel Studio into cranking out something similar it does help bring attention to some of the more non-superhero properties DC has in its Vertigo line. The film definitely has more excitement in it despite its major flaw than either Constantine and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I do hope it does well enough that a sequel gets greenlit and helps build more of a story in the follow-up now that introducing the characters and the world are now out of the way.