This week’s home video releases are anchored by a pair of guy films, one that’s all about action and one that’s a buddy cop comedy featuring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.
2 stars (out of four)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
You don’t have to watch much of “The Losers” to realize that director Sylvain White (“Stomp the Yard”) is doing his best to make a live-action comic book. The visuals are so stylized and frenetic that certain sequences feel like they were ripped straight from a graphic novel. That’s a compliment considering that the movie is a spinoff of the like-titled Vertigo comic series but, sadly, the visuals are the only things that seem inspired.
As in the comic books, the action centers on a group of special forces soldiers who are affectionately known as the Losers. There’s Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the charismatic leader; Rogue (Idris Elba), a self-centered super soldier; Jensen (Chris Evans), a computer expert; Pooch (Columbus Short), a pilot; and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), an expert sniper. After a powerful CIA agent named Max (Jason Patric) orders their murder and leaves them stranded in Bolivia, Clay vows revenge. The Losers spend the rest of the movie hunting Clay and trying to reclaim their lives, and they get a helping hand from a mysterious woman named Aisha (Zoe Saldana).
The cast is solid and White’s flair for visuals makes the picture palatable, but it suffers from one serious flaw: There’s too much action.
Fast-paced movies are well and good, but when a director places his action sequences above plot and character development, it starts to feel like there’s nothing at stake. “The Losers” looks good, but it’s also a reminder that appearances can be deceiving.
The DVD release of “The Losers” has only one extra, a bit about Saldana working amidst a mostly male cast. The Blu-ray release includes that feature plus a deleted scene and a couple additional making-of shorts.
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
“Cop Out” represents an experiment for filmmaker Kevin Smith who, for the first time, opted to direct a feature film he did not write. Judging by the result, we should all hope he got that out of his system.
Smith is arguably one of the finest writer-directors of his generation, as he has consistently produced movies that are both laugh-out-loud funny and insightful. Sadly, “Cop Out” is every bit as bad as Smith gems, like “Clerks” and “Dogma,” are good.
The film is a buddy cop comedy featuring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as Jimmy Monroe and Paul Hodges, longtime partners who are also best friends.
Jimmy (Willis) is embarrassed that he can’t come up with the $48,000 he needs to give his daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) the perfect wedding, so he decides to sell a rare baseball card that will cover everything. Alas, a low-level thief (Seann William Scott) steals the card before he can make a deal. Devastated, Jimmy vows to track the thief down, but he and Paul stumble onto a case much bigger than trading card theft.
With Willis and Morgan involved, one could reasonably expect great comic moments, but screenwriters Robb and Mark Cullen didn’t give the actors much to work with. Most of the comedy sequences are over the top, and the crime story that Jimmy and Paul find themselves in just isn’t that good.
Also annoying is an ongoing gag about Paul’s propensity to quote classic movie lines while interacting with suspects. Morgan spends a good deal of the movie quoting everything from “Robocop” to “Scarface,” and it immediately grows tiresome.
Willis’ take on Jimmy isn’t so annoying, but he doesn’t create a great character either. Rather, Jimmy is an average straight man who is predictable and forgettable … just like “Cop Out.”
Special features on the “Cop Out” DVD release are limited to deleted scenes. The Blu-ray combo pack comes with significantly more material, including DVD and digital copies of the film and the ability to play the feature in “Maximum Comedy Mode.” In “Comedy” mode, viewers will find walk ons by Smith, picture-in-picture commentaries by Smith and Scott, trivia bits and more than 40 minutes of deleted material.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
“The Runaways”: Drama about the beginnings of the 1970s, all-girl rock band The Runaways. Kristen Stewart stars as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie. The film was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi.
Films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger: The Criterion Collection is releasing newly restored versions of two movies by the renowned filmmaking team of Powell and Pressburger. The first, “The Red Shoes” (1948), tells the story of a young ballerina who lands a starring role with an established company. Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring star. The second film, “Black Narcissus” (1947), is the tale of nuns who find their faith tested while working to establish a convent in the Himalayas. Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, Flora Robson, Jean Simmons and David Farrar star.
“Matlock” – The Fifth Season: More action from the 1980s and ’90s legal drama starring Andy Griffith as defense attorney Ben Matlock, a man who not only clears his clients’ names but investigates crimes and finds the true perpetrators. Nancy Stafford, Clarence Gilyard Jr., and Julie Sommars also star.
Roger Corman films: Shout! Factory is releasing two more movies as part of its Roger Corman’s Cult Classics series. Both pictures – “Forbidden World” (1982) and “Galaxy of Terror” (1981) – are science-fiction efforts produced by Corman. They are available on DVD and Blu-ray.
“Courage the Cowardly Dog” – Season One: First 13 episodes of the Cartoon Network series about a frightened dog who must face a variety of monsters in an effort to protect his family.
“Entre Nos”: Story of a young mother (Paola Mendoza) who moves from Colombia to New York with her children, only to be abandoned by her husband. The film was inspired by the story of Mendoza’s mother, and she not only stars in the project, she co-wrote and co-directed it with Gloria LaMorte. Presented in Spanish with English subtitles.
The Bong Joon-ho Collection: Magnolia Home Entertainment is releasing a boxed set including three films by acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon-ho. Included are “The Host,” “Barking Dogs Never Bite” and “Mother.” The latter two movies are also being released individually. All films are presented in Korean with English subtitles.
“Sutures”: Thriller about a sociopath harvesting body parts to sell on the black market. Andrew Prine, Jason London, Carlos Lauchu and Allison Lange star.
Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com.