The Losers. 98 mins. PG-13. Directed by Sylvain White. Written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Chris Evans, and Jason Patric.
Another weekend, another comic book adaption - this one's based on a relatively obscure comic that bears more than a passing resemblance to The A-Team. Though it certainly won't be mistaken as groundbreaking or clever, The Losers does possess its own unique set of charms. It is a blessedly unpretentious, dumb lark that's over almost as soon as it starts. There are a handful of laughs, enjoyably hammy, oh-so-ironic performances, and a consistent stream of ridiculous, over-the-top action sequences filmed for maximum "cool" effect. Add in a few slo-mo shots of the actors walking in a group toward the camera (a la The Right Stuff) and Zoe Saldana in her underwear in nearly every other scene, and you should know by now whether this is your cup of tea. I doubt that most females will get much out of the movie, but for fans of lightweight action comedies, you could do a lot worse.
Apparently failing to get George Clooney, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey's Anatomy's Denny) stars as Clay, the leader of an elite tactical squad known as "The Losers." Also on hand are The Wire's Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and the new Captain America himself, Chris Evans. After a botched assassination attempt results in the death of two dozen young kids, The Losers head into self-imposed exile, waiting for the right time to come out of hiding and take down the corrupt CIA handler, Max (Jason Patric), who betrayed them. That opportunity comes in the form of a shady, equally badass gal, played by Avatar's Saldana. It's up to The Losers to stop Max before he causes even more damage using "Snukes" - a form of nuclear weapon that makes everything in the blast radius disappear into thin air. Call it the "green" form of nuclear destruction, if you will - no mess, no fuss.
Okay, so yes, "Snukes", or whatever they're called, are silly. The filmmakers know it. So does Patric. His performance as Max teeters on being too cavalier and ironic for it's own good, but given the tone of the rest of the movie - I felt like it worked. He and Chris Evans get the lion's share of laughs in the movie. Evans, in particular, is given the best sequence - infiltrating a building to steal a code - he gets to sing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," get caught with his pants down, and then act like he can kill people with his mind using finger guns, while his sniper buddy shoots actual bullets from a distance. That part's in the trailer - but the movie leaves out one of the best lines: "Mama don't raise no fool." They should have kept it in.
Not sold yet? What if I told you there's an end action sequence where a guy riding a motorcycle is blasted with a bazooka into an oncoming plane full of money. The guy flies right into the propeller, killing him instantly, while the flaming motorcycle flies into the airplane - blowing it up instantly, just inches before the plane comes to a crashing halt in front of Clay. The scene is shot with such gleeful, ridiculous abandon that I had no choice but to just go with it. I was reminded of that scene in Return of the King, where Legolas climbs up the elephant, takes out the bad guy, and then slides down the crashing elephant's trunk. Crazy? Yes. Cool? Oh yeah.
The Losers, which was co-written by one of my favorite new directors, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Rundown), is not going to set the world on fire. In fact, based on early box office estimates, it seems like I was the only one who went to see it this weekend. That's a shame. I liked all of the actors here and the general vibe of the movie. I would have enjoyed seeing this turn into a franchise, with a new sequel every two years. Not every movie has to be big, serious, or important. The Losers is definitely not that - it's dumb fun done right.