Mark Reviews Movies

THE LOSERS

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Sylvain White

Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, ZoŽ Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, ”scar Jaenada, Jason Patric, Holt McCallany

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality and language)

Running Time: 1:38

Release Date: 4/23/10


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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 22, 2010

Existing in that unfortunate realm of entertainment, The Losers does nothing special in all-too familiar ways. It is so disposable, in fact, that merely a plot summary should suffice.

A ragtag group of former black ops members seek revenge against the man who ruined their lives.

This is everything anyone needs to know about The Losers, and from there, those same people can more than likely assume correctly just about every element, plot point, and characterization that will follow.

Certainly, they will know that the team consists of diverse personalities with their own specialty and brand of taking action.

There's the leader. His name is Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He's the no-nonsense type, a gruff and tough guy with a lot of scruff, whose idea of cleaning up is to throw on a suit (sans tie, naturally) that looks to have been curled up in a ball underneath his pillow. He seems strict, but it's only hiding his true feelings of camaraderie and dedication to the men over whom he serves.

There's his second, a tough-as-nails badass named Roque (Idris Elba). Roque, by the way, is a sport with balls and a mallet (the type Jack Torrance used in Stephen King's book to try to kill his family at the Overlookójust for more trivia). Certainly the name is appropriate. He doesn't even take crap from Clay. He likes his team but his individuality and freedom more, which makes him the rogue, which in certain fonts looks like, but should not be mistaken for, his name or the game that inspired it.

The jokester of the squad is Jensen (Chris Evans), who also serves as its operative with thespian leanings, disguising himself as a courier, an elevator exhibitionist, and a tech guy in just one mission. He's the Face to the Losers' A-Team. He's also their computer expert, which saves on payroll costs.

Pooch (Columbus Short) is the driver, with a pregnant wife at home who believes he's dead, and Cougar (”scar Jaenada) is their quiet sniper who excels at being quiet.

They're all supposed to be dead, after a mission in Bolivia to exterminate a drug lord goes terribly wrong, leaving a helicopter full of children dead. They were meant to be in the chopper, and Max (Jason Patric), a CIA honcho, wanted them dead for messing with his evil scheme.

Enter the mysterious Aisha (ZoŽ Saldana), who offers to help the Losers get revenge. Max has even more evil schemes in store for them to unravel; this time it involves a bomb that makes an entire island disappear into itself. His plans are evil, but as played by Patric, he's more an irritating jerk than a malevolent mastermind.

The Losers have their missions, fights, and shootouts, which are over-the-top and unbelievable, with the latter winning out more often than not. Upon their first meeting, Clay and Aishia get into a bare-knuckle brawl in a hotel room, alternating poses between pain and foreplay. The entire room spontaneously catches fire for no apparent reason beyond the supposed stylishness of two people fighting in a room that's ablaze.

The opening sequence of the squad's mission in Bolivia sets the stylized tone, as shot enemies instantly enter freeze frame, rapid edits showcase proficiency with technique and lose the sense of things as they happen, and the Losers outrun a massive fireball in a school bus full of kids.

Director Sylvain White substitutes excess for involvement, and even has a scene of the sextet walking toward the camera in slow motion. That's an annoyance, but worse are a heist in broad daylight on a busy street, during which Clay and Roque fire weapons about 100 feet away from armed guards who never notice, and the final confrontation at the Port of Los Angeles, during which Pooch miraculously heals from gunshot wounds to the legs and a motorcycle appears in a crate only for the purpose of using it later on.

The main issue is that the context of slam-bang but hollow action completely overshadows the content of a ragtag squad. Each of the members, even in their prototypical form, has a certain charm. Part of it is familiarity, and another is casting. The actors play these parts with teeth, while the movie serves to systematically pull them.

Any generic group of never-do-wells can cause mayhem and destruction, and The Losers fails to make its company of scoundrels more special than just any group.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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