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Overall Rating
2

Awesome: 2.94%
Worth A Look: 2.94%
Average: 38.24%
Pretty Bad: 2.94%
Total Crap52.94%

5 reviews, 4 user ratings


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Losers, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Talk About A Bozo Nightmare"
1 stars

Watching “The Losers” is a lot like being trapped inside the action-film equivalent of Spenser’s Gifts for 90-odd minutes without any chance of escape. It is loud, garish, stupid, brutish, racist, sexist and utterly devoid of wit, intelligence, grace, dignity or any other commonly held humanistic ideals but it has cleverly packaged these elements in such a slick and slippery manner that hordes of bottom-feeding mall denizens will flock to it without hesitation to cheerfully sample its slipshod goods and mercilessly go after anyone with the nerve to point out how tacky and tasteless they really are. Astonishingly, less than a week after some critics were describing “Kick-Ass” as some kind of moral and ethical low point in the history of cinema, here comes a movie so ugly, loathsome and lacking in merit that it makes that sordid barf-bag of goods seem like “Children of Paradise” by comparison.

Based officially on a DC comic book series and unofficially on any random episode of “The A-Team” that you might happen upon in the middle of the night while channel-hopping between infomercials, soft-core porn and Rachel Maddow reruns, the film kicks off in Bolivia as the five members of an elite CIA black ops team--Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Roque (Idris Elba), Jensen (Chris Evans), Pooch (Columbus Short) and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada)--as they prepare to call in an air strike on the compound of a powerful drug dealer. However, when a group of children being utilized as drug mules are unexpectedly bused in at the last moment, leader Clay tries to abort the mission but is overruled by a mysterious voice on the radio that identifies himself only as Max. Being the sensitive kind of CIA black ops warrior, Clay cannot abide by the thought of 20 children being needlessly killed and storms the compound with his men in a battle that kills off a couple hundred henchmen and day laborers but which thankfully leaves the waifs unscathed. The victory, alas, is short-lived as Max engineers a double-cross that kills off all the kids in a helicopter explosion and leaves our heroes presumed dead and blamed for everything that happened. Oh, just in case you are somewhat worried that a downed helicopter filled with incinerated children might be just a little too much for an innocuous PG-13 action film, don’t worry--sure, they all die but there isn’t a drop of blood or any human remains to be seen amidst the wreckage. (However, a symbolic teddy bear does manage to survive unscathed, suggestion that those child safety zealots are certainly doing their job and then some.)

A few weeks later, with he and his men still stranded in Bolivia and trying to earn enough money to smuggle themselves home in order to restore their good names, Clay is approached in a local dive by the gorgeous Aisha (Zoe Saldana) with a business proposition that he cannot refuse. After the standard opening negotiations that are a requirement in this kind of film--the two smack the crap out each other while a hotel room burns down around them--Aisha lays out her deal. Like Clay, she wants Max (Jason Patric), who turns out to be some kind of uber-American super villain who is trying to get his hands on some next-level weaponry that is described at one point, if I am not mistaken, as being like an ecologically sound nuclear weapon that can cause unimaginable destruction but which doesn’t pollute. Dead and has the resources to get him and his men back into the U.S. in order to take him down. Although Aisha seems a little too good to be true--especially in the extra-snug pants that the camera never tires of focusing on as the film progresses--the guys agree to go along with the plan. From here on, the film becomes an endless orgy of overblown battle scenes and mystifying double-crosses that culminates in a dockyard finale in which hundreds of henchmen are gunned down, violent explosions rock the area and the bad guy runs around talking about his back-up plan. For those of you keeping score, this makes “The Losers” the second film opening this week featuring a character talking about the importance of a back-up plan in the course of a screenplay that could have used one of its own.

As those of you who are somewhat familiar with my reviews can attest, I am not someone who is immune to the charms of a cheerfully ridiculous and shamelessly overblown action extravaganza--films like “Wanted” and the delirious cinematic bon-bons of Luc Besson immediately come to mind--and on the surface, “The Losers” is no more ludicrous than any of those. However, a film of this type is driven largely by style and attitude and it is in these areas that “The Losers” comes up short. A good film of this type--let us take Besson’s 1994 masterpiece “Leon” as an example--is filled with plenty of beautifully staged action beats, to be sure, but also takes care to include characters that have some degree of personality and a story that is told with enough wit and stylishness to keep from becoming just another kill fest but not so much as to turn it into a cartoonish joke. Here, the characters are all ciphers and the actors, for the most part, just cruise through their scenes with the kind of lazy attitude that comes with getting paid big bucks to stand around while things explode around them--the only one who puts in any discernible effort is Patric and the less said about his histrionic sub-Gary Oldman antics, the better. (My guess is that Zoe Saldana, now being anointed as the Next Big Thing by practically everyone, is probably wishing that this completely throwaway of a performance had been released before “Avatar” instead of afterwards.) Worse, the screenplay by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt is an incredibly weak concoction that offers up every guys-on-a-mission cliché in the book without providing a fresh take on such familiar material--their idea of brilliant innovation is to set a chase scene to the sound of the musical crime against humanity that is “Don’t Stop Believing” from Journey (Couldn’t they have at least used the version from the cast of “Glee”?)--while throwing off a number of needless and gratuitous bits of sexist and racist attitude that will presumably go over like gangbusters with the 14-year-old dopes it is being aimed squarely at.

Therefore, “The Losers” is little more than a collection of barely strung-together set-pieces and it is in this area that it fails most completely. Many punches are thrown, many guns are fired and many things go bang and boom throughout the film but as it lopes along in its lunkheaded manner, it quickly becomes apparent that while director Sylvain White, the auteur of “Stomp the Yard,” may be at home with the kind of choreography that is limited to the dance floor, he has absolutely no idea of how to stage or execute jumbo-sized action beats with anything resembling core competency, let alone the distinctive flair that someone like Besson or might have brought to the party. Instead, the only thing that really stands out is that this is yet another one of those movies in which hundreds of people are beaten, stabbed, shot and blown up but because they have the decency to go down quietly in family-friendly heaps without messing things up with inconvenient gouts of blood, the carnage gets a PG-13 rating that makes it theoretically viewable to moviegoers of all ages. Normally, this sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me that much--I fully recognize that there is a great difference between real violence and movie violence--but for some reason, the ridiculously blood-free mayhem on display here comes very close to coming across as borderline offensive. Perhaps if there was some indication that White was doing this ironically as a way of underscoring the cartoonish nature of the proceedings, there might have been a point to it all but instead, it just feels like an extra cynical way of getting younger kids to see a movie that is far too violent and foul-minded for them while leaving room for an “unrated” DVD edition that you know will be coming along in a few months.

“The Losers” is brain-dead trash of the lowest order and whether you look at it as one of the last gasps of the spring movie season or as a sneak preview of the upcoming onslaught of summer blockbusters, only those who have completely taken leave of their artistic or critical faculties will see it as anything other than one of the very worst films to emerge in a year that hasn’t exactly been fecund with masterpieces so far. And yet, because it promises a couple of hours of mindless entertainment and because it has a relatively permissive rating, it will probably do well at the box-office with action junkies looking for something to do in the last couple of weeks before the opening of “Iron Man 2.” That doesn’t make it right, however, and if they have any taste at all, they will most likely find themselves emerging from the multiplex afterwards feeling like the real losers.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19184&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/23/10 15:26:13
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User Comments

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
4/27/10 PAUL SHORTT LOUD, BLAND AND UNRELENTINGLY VIOLENT 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Apr-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Apr-2010
  DVD: 20-Jul-2010




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