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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.86%
Worth A Look: 2.86%
Average: 40%
Pretty Bad: 2.86%
Total Crap51.43%

5 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Losers, The
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by Erik Childress

"First The White Sox Destroy 'Don't Stop Believin' And Now This"
1 stars

OK, boys and girls, it's time for role play. In today's game you are a movie director. Your career is still young and to date you have only made a direct-to-video horror sequel called I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer and a dance film that actually made it to theaters by the name of Stomp The Yard. Apparently the reasonable success of low-budget film got you enough attention to take over the reins of a major studio's comic book adaptation. It has been passed along to a few directors, but no matter. This is your chance to shine. An opportunity to show everyone in Hollywood and geek nation that you have the chops to hit one out of the park like Christopher Nolan with Batman Begins or Zack Snyder with 300. This is your moment Arthur Puty - I mean, Sylvain White - to show the world you are ready to play with the big boys. What do you do? If you're the real Sylvain White you make The Losers and show absolutely no skill or imagination with the action sequences whatsoever and turn in a product that is the living embodiment of generic ultra-blandness.

For those who had to look up the comic book (as I did), The Losers is a pseudo-updating of a '70s series about a WWII special forces group who had each lost soldiers under their command. Hence The Losers. Flash-forward to the 21st century when the war on terror was in full bloom, The Losers became an elite CIA special forces group. Just as in the film there is their leader, Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), his right-hand man Roque (Idris Elba), goofball hacker Jensen (Chris Evans), quiet sniper Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) and the pilot Pooch (Columbus Short). On a mission in Bolivia that appears dubious from the start, the gang rescue twenty-five children used as mules by a drug warlord. That wasn't the mission, so with no room to transport them all out of the jungle they give their helicopter to the kids. No sooner is the chopper above the trees then they listen to their handler, Max (Jason Patric), order it shot down under the assumption his team was on board. Losers 5, Kids 0.

Declared dead, the fivesome kick back in the third world in hiding until the mysterious Aisha (Zoe Saldana) offer them the chance to get back at Max. Roque doesn't trust the waif, but Clay is seduced by the prospect of a little payback as well as Aisha in her underwear. This is a PG-13 movie after all. Jumping from city to country, The Losers (who never really refer to themselves as such) orchestrate stealing vital intel from their nemesis, who quickly becomes aware they are still alive. Thanks to his own right-hand man, Wade (Holt McCallany) able to recognize Pooch through the window of a helicopter hundreds of feet in the air at an angle that would make such an ID impossible. Double-crosses will ensue, stuff will blow up and never once do we feel an ounce of excitement or anything for that matter from what is happening on screen.

The easy parallel to make of The Losers is with The A-Team, another group of military specialists framed and left behind who then go rogue against those in need of some justice. Actually it has more in common with Brian DePalma's version of Mission: Impossible whose team was betrayed and ambushed, further double-crosses ensue and even involved a criminal mastermind named Max who was making money off the government's secrets. Comparing this project to either the slick set pieces of DePalma, the goofiness of television's iconic foursome or BlaGyver (as Pooch refers to himself as "the black MacGyver") is the only thing about The Losers that appropriately justifies its name. There is more inspiration on hand in the trailer for The A-Team's first big-screen appearance than in any action sequence here. Peter Berg, who serves as the screenwriter here along with James Vanderbilt (continuing to show he is more the guy who wrote Basic and Darkness Falls than all the credit of Zodiac), was originally slated to helm The Losers before he let it go down the pike to Tim "Not-So-Fantastic Four" Story and eventually to White. If ever there was a guy who has shown that a fresh style of shooting action can elevate a bare-bones idea, it was Berg with The Rundown and The Kingdom.

Over-the-top action may never have been the saving grace here, but White does himself no favors by laying it on so blandly that the lackluster story becomes an afterthought. Forget interesting, the characters themselves are just not any fun. Chris Evans is trying to lay on the same kind of handsome charm that made the Fantastic Four films tolerable for a few seconds. Jaenada is identifiable only by his hat. Short is playing the token black guy in a film that already has one. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes Sam Worthington look positively conscious by comparison as he appears lost without his cigar prop as The Comedian in Watchmen. The Roadshow nature of the casting adds another dimension to the film's title as the roles of leader, clown and big black guy appear to have been filled with leftovers from The A-Team auditions.

When I referred to the gang bouncing around from place-to-place, I was not kidding. Like the action itself, we get stamp marks on the various locales without ever being provided anything distinct about them as if they were correspondents for The Daily Show. At one point a character refers to their change of heart being inspired by the "Miami fiasco" and we must stop to remember if they ever went there or if this was some past transgression that led to this eleventh hour betrayal. Indeed The Losers is rated PG-13, which accounts for the physics lesson that the human body incinerates faster than paper money in the aftermath of aerial explosions. But we still get Jason Patric trying to ooze evil by shooting his personal shader after a strong wind and belting out lines such as "It's like giving a handgun to a six year-old. You don't know what's going to happen, but you're pretty sure it will make the papers." That and the snubbing of a quarter's worth of small children to fuel a wink-wink revenge plot seems far more offensive than Kick-Ass' Hit-Girl and her murderous instincts. The Losers' big quality kill moment might have given new meaning to dying hard (or "badly") if it already wasn't straight out of a Die Hard film. But truth is the real kill moment comes when the directing credit is announced at the end and the title truly comes full circle.

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originally posted: 04/23/10 15:00:00
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User Comments

3/21/18 Anne well done action movie and some great photography 3 stars
11/17/11 Sascha Müller I really enjoyed this feature. 4 stars
7/24/11 mr.mike It was OK.Somebody please give Zoe a cheeseburger! 3 stars
7/28/10 Corky Had a blast; loud, violent and funny as hell... loved these Losers! 5 stars
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  23-Apr-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2010


  DVD: 20-Jul-2010

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