Movie Review: The Losers (2010)

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Idris Elba, Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada in The Losers
Photo: Warner Bros.

The Losers should have probably been a television show. Add twenty minutes of commercials and you have a two hour premiere with a cliffhanger that prepares the audience for next week’s episode. This isn’t to say it’s a bad movie, because it’s a lot of ridiculous fun, but it is a bit disappointing when you’ve watched a film for 98 minutes only to get to the end and realize you aren’t any deeper into the story than you were 83 minutes ago, which is why this gets a thumbs up for mindless entertainment, but I can’t go much further than that.

The Losers centers on an elite Special Forces team of five men who take to the Bolivian jungle where they become pawns in a bogus mission designed by the mysterious voice known only as Max. Despite their best efforts, the mission results in a pile of smoldering bodies including what is thought to be their own. Presumed dead and stranded in a third world country, The Losers are born and out for revenge. But who is Max? We’ll get to that in a second…

The Losers are made up of their leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the wise-cracking tech expert Jensen (Chris Evans), the man in charge of explosives Roque (Idris Elba), transportation expert Pooch (Columbus Short) and team sniper Cougar (Oscar Jaenada). It’s sort of like watching “The A-Team” stuck in an episode of “Mission: Impossible.” Laughs, action, blunders and a ruthless villain equipped with one of the most laughable world domination weapons I’ve seen. Seriously? A sonic dematerializer? Just wait until you see what this thing does.

The sex appeal of the show comes in the form of Aisha (Zoe Saldana), the mystery woman that has somehow found The Losers despite everyone else believing they’re dead. On top of that she has information they have otherwise been unable to attain. Essentially, she is just one more piece of the convoluted puzzle, very little of which actually fits together all that well, but works enough to keep the story bouncing forward.

The fun comes in the form of explosions, snarky remarks from Jensen and most importantly the villainous Max played by Jason Patric. Max is a bit eccentric. He loves throwing people off buildings as well as shooting random servants should they disappoint him. He likes his ladies to remain in the pool so they “stay wet” and he’s quite committed to initiating global chaos all while serving as the film’s standup comic. Max, essentially, is what makes The Losers so much fun, but he’s sure to be the reason others will find it unbearable.

The largest issue here is the film’s inability to remain consistent. The lives of The Losers are on the line. Every step they take is life or death as they prep to battle against a madman who sometimes seems like he’s more fit to play to a crowd rather than intent on starting a global war. It’s the mixture of these two elements that falls short. It’s amusing, entirely nonsensical and rather shoddily put together, but in a way it kind of works.

Comic book based adaptations have started taking themselves a bit too seriously. Since Batman Begins everything seems to be trying to be dark and gritty. There is none of that in The Losers, a film intent on blowing things up and fulfilling the obligatory sex scene quota (of which I’m actually surprised to see most of it in the TV spots).

I never watched director Sylvain White’s Stomp the Yard so I can’t tell you whether he’s grown as a filmmaker or otherwise, but I didn’t notice much of a signature style. Early on he tries a couple of cheap-looking freeze frames, attempting to mimic a comic book, and then he ventures into Zack Snyder slow-mo territory as flames climb the walls and Saldana looks to deliver a right cross. However, he appears to have set out to make more of an amusement park thrill ride rather than a heart-stopping thriller and he has. This film has an injection of fun films such as Hitman and Max Payne needed.

Explosions, Jason Patric and a bit of lunacy turns this actioner into a B-movie comic adaptation that I would love to see more of, and with a script touch-up, a better director and a real conclusion I think a second film could really deliver. In the end, I wouldn’t mind plunking my money down for what’s really nothing more than an afternoon distraction, but The Losers will work just the same should you wait to watch it at home.

GRADE: B-