Review: The Losers

Posted April 20th, 2010 at 9:42 am

The Losers is based off a comic, but make no mistake, this is no Kick-Ass.  Carrying a PG-13 rating the action is more centered on the usual explosions and gun fights and the language is tempered. Most notably the movie just breezes through with little in the way of actual conflict or concern. The Losers is the definition of underwhelming. It takes no chances, goes down a predictable path, and is completely forgettable.

In The Losers a CIA special-ops team is presumed dead after being victim to a set up, but the crew survives and decides to work towards revenge on the man who ordered them killed. The film stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clay), Chris Evans (Jensen), Zoe Saldana (Aisha), Idris Elba (Roque), and Columbus Short (Pooch).

Of them Morgan and Evans are the stand-outs but that isn’t really saying that much in this case. Everyone feels very replaceable outside of those two, and even with them the characters aren’t completely compelling. The villain, played by Jason Patric (Max), is meant to show ruthlessness with a calm nature and lack of conscience, but he felt like a caricature of a bad guy. At no point did he feel like a true threat nor did I even really understand his motives.

Much is made of a device used to deconstruct matter, seen making a island completely disappear, and that was such a background element that it never really even felt necessary. Max spends several scenes working up to obtaining several of these devices. Yet it never raises the dramatic stakes, it very easily could’ve been removed from the plot and the movie could have progressed just the same.

While there are some entertaining action sequences, and some cool explosions, there was absolutely no tension behind these events. That is probably what I felt was lacking the most. There is also the standard double-cross which just didn’t elicit any emotion out of me at all.

A comment is made early on about how by going after Max the team is “declaring war on the CIA”. Despite this statement being made there are no repercussions seen at all in the movie from the CIA for their actions. They just have the one target in Max, and he has his private security as the buffer. It just made me wonder where they were going with that statement, even at one point the team contemplates giving up on the plan and going back to their families. How could they go back and expect to live normal lives? That whole thing just seemed lazily thought out.

Everything seems to come easy to these guys, and they keep cracking jokes even in situations that would seem dire. I recognize that is part of the overall theme behind the source material, and I’ve liked movies in the past that have gone a similar route, it just doesn’t work here. Maybe I have to chalk some of that up to releasing so close to Kick-Ass which was such a visceral and emotionally heavy experience.

There were a few chuckles had throughout, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them laughs. Most came from Chris Evans, who probably will get extra recognition for this performance now that he is lined up for Captain America. Outside of a few cracks from him though almost all of the jokes fell completely flat.

Most frustrating is that there really is no payoff at the end, not that I was waiting so eagerly for the bad guy to get what was coming to him cause I never got invested in the events taking place. But they have clearly set things up for a sequel with hopes of it becoming a franchise. I just don’t think that is fair to the audience.

Though The Losers is based on a graphic novel that is well regarded, and it stays somewhat true to that, the transition to movie form ends up being a big disappointment. A far superior comic adaptation released just last week, and there is even better straight action fare out right now. This is the type of movie that would fall right into the suggested “wait for DVD” category.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆