Screen Rant reviews The Losers
So for the PG-13 action crowd, The Losers is the film that is kicking off the pre-summer movie season. Yes, we had Kick-Ass, but its R-rated graphic violence and language kept a lot of people away. The question is, does this film do the job it sets out to do?
The Losers is based on a DC comic book series that I’ve never read, so I don’t know if it adheres closely to the source material or deviates a little or a lot. From everything I’ve seen in the trailers and clips, the film struck me as another riff on The A-Team (movie version opening this summer). Still, who doesn’t like the story of a bunch of hard-nosed special ops guys with hearts of gold who are wronged by someone in the government and have to restore their good names (did I mention this reminded me of The A-Team?).
As the film opens we’re introduced to our hardy band of tough guys. They’re SO tough that when they play cards instead of betting money they bet loaded guns and knives. The card game is meant to introduce us to the individuals in the team, but right from the start it seems forced. I was reminded of the opening scene of Eagle Eye (not a great film by any means) where we are introduced to Shia Lebeouf’s character – by the end of that very short scene we not only have an excellent sense of exactly who he is, but he also seems like a real person. Here, everyone feels like cardboard cutouts instead of real, live flesh and blood characters. More like caricatures.
But I digress.
They’re in Bolivia and are “painting” a target so that a jet can come in and bomb it to smithereens. It seems that a big drug grower/dealer lives there – problem is, after their leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gives the green light, a truckload of children arrive on the scene (they’re being used as “mules” to transport the drugs). Clay tries to call off the bombing, but a mysterious “Max” (Jason Patric) is on the radio and overrules Clay. The Losers are black ops guys with a heart of gold, so they attack the camp themselves in order to free the children.
In the end things go horribly wrong, The Losers are presumed dead and they settle in for a low-key life in Bolivia. Of course Clay wants to track down and kill Max, and along comes Aisha (Zoe Saldana, looking very hot in this flick) with a proposition for Clay that will help him get back to the States and get justice (or revenge, if you rather).
Members of the crew are suspicious of Aisha but Clay overrules them – eventually they make it back to the U.S. and plan to go after Max, who turns out to be a high level someone or other in the CIA. Many explosions and much gunfire ensues.
Now I know what they were going for here: A fun action flick with likeable characters. The Losers doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a popcorn movie – but even in that sort of film you have to be at least partially sucked into the film and find the characters believable, or at least feel a sense of connection to them. The problem with the film is that for the most part, the members of the team just feel like caricatures spouting poor dialog. Also the film tries oh-so-hard to be “cool.” You’ve got the requisite slow-mo shot of the team walking towards the camera, (non-)witty dialog and yet more clever ways to indicate in what location a scene is taking place (can we PLEASE go back to just plain old white text at the bottom of the screen instead of making it look like it’s part of the environment??).
Now, as a popcorn film, that’s not to say I didn’t like it. But it DID take an awfully long time for me to warm up to it. About 2/3 of the way in it finally started to overcome its stiffness and the characters started to feel more real and grow on me. The absolute runaway best thing in the movie is Chris Evans – at first his jokes fall flat but starting about halfway through the film he’s hysterical. Best scene in the film takes place when they invade “Goliath” headquarters (yes, that’s really the name of the corporation). Some of it was shown in the trailer but the entire scene here is gold. The other members of the team are actually given some dialog from this point on that makes them seem human towards the end of the film as well.
On the other hand, Jason Patric’s character Max was, pardon the politically incorrect term, retarded. Patric hammed it up more than Travolta in any recent film where he plays a villain (if you can believe that), and within the context of the film he was SO much an over the top, figuratively mustache-twirling villain that it was just ridiculous.
Overall, if you’re itching for the summer movie season to start and need something to tide you over until Iron Man 2 opens, lower your expectations and you might find yourself enjoying The Losers. No doubt I’ll be getting a few “hey, why can’t you just enjoy a movie” comments, but so be it. If it had gotten better sooner in the movie, I would have bumped up my score accordingly.
Note to parents: It’s pretty violent for a PG-13 film and has a couple of fairly steamy scenes as well.
Maybe the sequel will be better…