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- Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoë Saldana, Chris Evans, Jason Patric, Idris Elba, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada
- Written By: Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt
- Directed By: Sylvain White
The Losers Movie Review
The Losers: Get Lost
By Rob Vaux
April 22, 2010
The Losers Movie Review
© Mania/Bob Trate
The Losers feels more like a pilot for a TV show than a movie. Its point-and-click action scenes hold a certain competence, but never rise above the run-of-the-mill. So too do its characters spend more time trying to be clever than letting us get to know them. On a TV show, we wouldn’t worry; there’d be time for all that later. But for a quick-fix shoot-‘em-up with nothing but popcorn fun on its mind, a little more unity of purpose is required. It basically constitutes a sub-par episode of The A-Team… and since an official sub-par episode of The A-Team arrives later this summer, one wonders why The Losers even bothered.
The brick and mortar elements hold up well enough, at least as throwaway riffs. The titular team of Ultimate Bad Asses start out as Special Forces operatives in Bolivia. Then a mission goes bad and a nasty bastard named Max (Jason Patric) on the other end of a walkie-talkie tries to have them killed. They’re perfectly happy to let him think he succeeded, until a mysterious woman ( Zoë Saldana) offers them a chance for revenge.
Beyond the general good guys/bad guys division, we learn very little about these characters. The Losers defines them solely by their role on the team and the clever quips which substitute for personality. Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) is the sniper, Jensen (Chris Evans) runs communications, and Pooch (Columbus Short) drives the car. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Clay acts as alpha dog, with Idris Elba’s Roque alternately challenging and supporting his plays. That, for all intents and purposes, constitutes the entirety of their personality. The rest becomes a race to see who can deliver the best one-liners (it’s officially a dead heat between Evans and Patric), in between popping off guns and blowing up armored cars.
It’s not unpleasant -- I laughed a good dozen times during the course of the film -- but it doesn’t put much meat on The Loser’s bones. Why is Patric’s character so evil? What brought him to his current state of affairs? We never find out and the movie really doesn’t care. Neither does it concern itself with connecting us to the heroes in any appreciable way. Instead, director Sylvain White relies on a too-cool-for-school production design to hold our attention, riffing decently on Tarantino and Rodriguez but never finding any energy of its own. It clearly wants to be much cooler than it is, with faux-gritty camera stock and occasional segues into four-color comic images. That little trick was a lot fresher five years ago.
To its credit, The Losers never succumbs to boredom. The editing is sharp, the set pieces are lively, and you won’t check your watch much during the running time. Morgan has real presence, as does the rest of the cast, which alleviates their status as total ciphers. Even the loose ends feels somewhat forgivable, like reading a single issue of the comic without the rest of the series in your hands. Then again, this isn’t a comic, and its assumption that more adventures may be forthcoming is presumptuous in the extreme. The Losers uses too many stock elements to make for an effective franchise. Again, it might have done better as a bit of primetime space filler on NBC. Then, at least, it would have a chance to improve… and we wouldn’t have to pay ten bucks to take a look.
POST-REVIEW RANT: Saldana’s skeletal body might be the most frightening thing you see at the movies all year. Zoë, we love you lots; please get some help. The rest of us need to stop pretending that Auschwitz-level weight is somehow sexy or attractive, and keep these poor women from starving themselves into an early grave. It’s sick, it’s dangerous and it needs to change right the hell now.
Meet THE LOSERS