2010, PG-13, 98 min. Directed by Sylvain White. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Jason Patric, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Óscar Jaenada, Peter Macdissi.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 30, 2010
It's easy to peg The Losers as The A-Team-lite, but that would be missing the point, which, in a nutshell, is guys with guns blowing things up is what summer fun is all about. Well, pretty much. Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book series, The Losers is the cinematic equivalent of KFC's new Double Down sandwich: all gutsy slurry, no white bread, tastes like chicken – which isn't itself a bad thing, unless that's all you consume. The film doesn't have a particularly appealing marketing gambit, but The Losers needs no such push, this being the beginning of summer. It may resemble, in the various plot points, contrivances, and assorted odd bits that make up its storyline, the pieces of a hundred other cartoonish, testosterone-fueled action films of the past two decades, but because it never falls into the trap of taking itself all that seriously, it manages to kick considerably more ass (and with less morbidity and minus the ethically sketchy tone) than even Kick-Ass. Morgan (Watchmen's The Comedian) is Colonel Clay, the hulking leader of a covert Special Forces team that is double-crossed by superiors when, on a "routine" mission to topple a Bolivian drug kingpin, they attempt to save the lives of some kids caught in the crossfire. Clay's quartet of talented killers include demolitions expert Roque (Elba), hard-bitten sniper Cougar (Jaenada), wheelman Pooch (Short), and Jensen (Evans), the wisecracking, tech-savvy intel ace. Presumed by their overlords to have been killed in action, this quintet of professional killers-with-consciences are hired by sultry female mystery-operative Aisha (Saldana, considerably amping up her already heady Lt. Uhura role from last year's Star Trek reboot but not quite overtaking her fierce Na'vi princess role from Avatar) to take on Patric's rogue CIA boss Max. The loser bait? They get their lives back should they succeed in offing Max, who, as if his godawful wardrobe weren't enough of a crime, also has plans to use a superweapon in nefarious ways. (As if there could be any other way. Please.) When The Losers works, it works well, steamrolling over any nagging plot holes – like how does the presumedly CIA-controlled Max manage to get away with killing so many innocent (or relatively innocent) people without being reined in? – in a flurry of gunfire, pyrotechnics, and comically jagged machismo. It's not rocket science making nonstop action feel semifresh, and The Losers' script by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt manages to render each individual, um, a loser in the broadest and most memorable strokes. It's not a masterpiece, either, but it'll do until Hannibal, Murdock, and the rest of the A-gamers start blowing things up come June.