Sloppy filmmaking on display in “The Losers”
The term “B movie” is often used in reference to films made on a comparatively low budget and to serve as a signal to audiences to dial down their expectations accordingly. “The Losers,” with a relatively modest budget of $25 million and no major stars could qualify as a “B,” but even by the most forgiving of action film standards the film is a brainless poseur.
Oh, there is action. After all, this is an adaptation of a DC/Vertigo comic, and though none of the scenes are groundbreaking, the film rarely stops to catch its breath… A good thing since the screenplay offers as many implausibilities as empty shell casings.
The motley crew of heroes comprises five members of a Special Forces squad who get sent into the Bolivian jungle to take out a drug lord but then are double-crossed and left for dead, with the specter of having killed 25 schoolchildren in the process. The group, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (of TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”-think a huskier, less charismatic version of George Clooney) and comprising other lesser-known actors (Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, Chris Evans) are given a shot at revenge through a femme fatale (Zoë Saldana, shedding her blue skin from “Avatar”). She also has a bone to pick with the drug lord (Jason Patric) who shows potential as a winking, deadpan megalomaniac but isn’t given much material to work with.
No background information is provided, so though the camaraderie hints at a poor man’s “Ocean’s Eleven” the dialogue is grounded in cliché and witless posturing. Evans (the former Johnny Storm from the “Fantastic Four” and future “Captain America”) has the film’s funniest scene when he waltzes into a high security IT firm and walks out with an extremely valuable hard drive-the film could have used a lot more of him. Maybe his superhero abilities carried over into “The Losers” since he gets mortally shot in one scene and the next day is scaling skyscrapers like nobody’s business. You’d also think a helicopter would not be able descend, amid heavy gunfire mind you, upon a busy street and, using an electromagnet, lift a car and carry it away without being chased. But hey, no one said comic book movies had to make sense.
Still, the screenwriters should have tried harder on this one. Co-writer Peter Berg also wrote the much smarter and more enjoyable “The Kingdom,” which might have made the smash-cut editing laced with repetitive slo-mo less distracting. As it stands, “The Losers” is too accurate a title to ignore, and despite a couple of fun scenes is exactly what audiences should and will do with this film.
Rated PG-13 for scenes of intense violence and action, a scene of sensuality and language (including 2 “F” words).