It’s surprising how there actually can be truth in advertising. For The Losers, the title says it all.
The title is derived from slang used to identify an eclectic black ops team serving the interest of our proud nation. Notable members include Jensen (Chris Evans) who runs communications. Rogue (Idris Elba), whose skill is to get angry and cause fights among teammates. There is also a sniper named Cougar (Óscar Jaenada) and a driver named Pooch (Columbus Short) who is inexplicably infatuated with a Chihuahua bobblehead. They are led by the more levelheaded Clay (Jeffry Dean Morgan).
On a mission in Bolivia the team is sent to paint a target with a laser for an aerial strike, but they call it off at the last minute when they find some children being trucked in to serve as human shields. This doesn’t sit well with Max (Jason Patric), a high level CIA agent who setup the mission in an effort to keep his affairs secret. Naturally, Max wants them dead. So our team of heroes fakes their deaths, get down to business, and plan to take down Max with the help of the mysterious Aisha (Zoe Saldana).
I’m not familiar with the source material, which from my understanding is a comic book. The way titles are handled recalls the medium. It’s a blunt way to introduce characters, but it’s effective enough that I never had trouble recalling who is who. This style translates to addressing location changes, of which there are many.
Typical action movie logic is in play and it stirs up unnecessary confusion. The Losers seem to perpetually be looking for something. Every time they steal a key item to get to Max, they have to get something else. It would have been simpler for them to just cut to the chase and go after the WMDs that Max is after: the “snukes”. If you’ve seen the South Park episode that parodies 24, you’ll get a chuckle every time “snuke” enters the conversation. Even if this isn’t a misguided joke, it’s not a threatening name for a device that forces an island to consume itself in a zero pollutant fashion.
I find Chris Evans funny, and given what he has to work with he puts in a solid effort. There isn’t a lot to comment about concerning the performances of other Losers. Perhaps that’s because they are in the shadow of Jason Patric’s Max, the worst villain of our young decade. Max is the kind of guy who spends a lot of time laughing at his own terrible wisecracks, which from the perspective of the audience only derail the film. I’m uncertain if Max knows these lines are this dreadful, even though here are reaction shots of bystanders not enjoying them. Maybe this would have worked with another actor, but we’ll never know.
Another big problem I was having involved the non-diegetic music. Director Sylvain White turns up the stereo with the most random of song choices. The action sequences themselves aren’t bad, but we don’t need Journey to chime in and inform us of their comic nature. Adding fuel to the fire is look-what-can-I-do editing that actively scrubs time (the 300 effect) and misappropriation of slow motion.
With The Losers, you get the required levels of action you’d expect, but for a film that doesn’t take itself seriously, it isn’t funny. I liked the comradery of our protagonists, but subplots about 8-year-old girls soccer games and a roast ham for a nemesis completely negate it. The Losers also sets itself up for a sequel, and not in a way anyone would want it. In an age where media lies to the masses, it’s nice to have an appropriately titled movie in release. **