The editing, music, and several of the characters in The Losers are clearly trying a little too hard to be cool, but the refreshingly balanced blend of humorous dialogue and exciting action scenes brings the film closer to the benchmark it’s aiming for. The setup is rather generic and the protagonists are straight from a video game, but Chris Evans’ wisecracks and the over-the-top villain ground the film in its comic book origins and The Losers never pretends to be something that it’s not. Lt. Col. Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) leads an elite Special Forces team for the CIA that includes Roque (Idris Elba) his second -in-command, Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) the sniper, Jensen (Chris Evans) the communications specialist and computer whiz, and Pooch (Columbus Short) the vehicles expert. After the group is betrayed by their handler Max (Jason Patric) and left for dead in Bolivia, Clay meets the mysterious Aisha (Zoe Saldana), a fiery young girl with a motive for revenge. Agreeing to fund Clay’s team and return them to the U.S. if they promise to kill Max, Aisha and her gang of “Losers” must wage war against an enigmatic enemy with nearly limitless resources at his disposal.
The very elements that make The Losers feel like a comic book movie are perhaps the same things that detract from the overall entertainment value. A distinct style is at work from the opening credits, involving bright flashes of light, fast cuts and still frames, to the clearly invincible, devil-may-care attitudes of the squad while descending upon dozens of heavily armed men with only eight minutes until a missile air strike obliterates the playing field. The specific focus on outlandish action sequences that ignore any notion of realism is appropriately thrilling at least half of the time, but the weak plot and annoying characters continually get in the way of pure escapism. “You have a better shot at kidnapping the president,” comments Aisha after she shows up, out of the blue, and with tons of cash to allow for hi-tech weaponry and pricey vehicles.
Four or five full scenes are dedicated to making Max a particularly contemptuously villain, but his manner of self-amusing comic relief isn’t funny. Some antagonists are more interesting when they provide humor, but Max relies on crude jokes and agitating repetition that is instantly stale. Zoe Saldana seems to channel Xenia Onatopp, but comes across as commonplace, especially with the inclusion of a PG-13, stylized scene of sensuality. A marginally interesting camaraderie exists between the remaining characters, but Chris Evans highlights the ex-soldiers, providing enough comedy to counteract the “sonic dematerializer” plot (something straight out of a comic). Ultimately, The Losers tries too hard to impress; the excessive use of slow-motion, fast-paced shootouts and a high body count (except that most people only end up unconscious) rarely helps to establish this as anything more than a typical, mindless action film.- The Massie Twins