This is interesting, of course, because The Losers is about a tight-knit clan of former US Commandos who got the raw end of a bad deal and became fugitive guns-for-hire when help is needed. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I know, The Losers is based on the 2003 DC Comics/ Vertigo series of graphic novels featuring these same characters which was, in turn, based on an earlier series from DC, whose first adventure carries a cover-date of almost exactly 13 years prior to the first airing of The A-Team TV show. I realize this isn't merely "derivative".
If only "derivative" was all The Losers had to worry about being. From the very beginning the film is action packed but vapid, using its explosive nature to distract from its mostly senseless plot, illogical progression and contrived scenarios. The point of this film is almost exclusively to kill as many people as possible and blow up as many objects as can be fit on the screen while throwing in as many wisecracks as possible all so everyone can walk out saying it was "Cool".
Well, in many places, the film IS pretty cool and it can be very entertaining at times, but the formula is so crystal clear it's almost impossible to take The Losers seriously without turning off almost all of your brain. Meanwhile the PG-13 rating keeps the edge of this film from ever getting too edgy. It's almost hilarious in and of itself to watch the writers, producers, directors, crew, cast and even characters wildly approach that fine line between PG-13 and R, then retreat back like wise-cracking New Yorkers from the MPAA's King Kong!
Okay, so, speaking of the Characters (Like Anybody Cares!):
The incredibly rapid-shot introduction tells us just why this team of "Losers" is on the run in the first place. Acting on the orders of some CIA douchebag named only "Max" (played, for some reason, by Jason Patric), the crack team finds and prepares to destroy the secret hideout of some South-Of-The Border criminal named Fadhil (Peter Francis James) along with anybody who might be in there... man, bikini-clad woman or child. When the deal goes South (sorry, farther South) and the escape chopper they were SUPPOSED to have been on is blown out of the sky, the Losers realize that they've been double-crossed and can never go home again.
That is until Clay, who seems to be hopelessly unaware that Miami Vice is off the air, runs afoul of the beautiful and bad-ass Aisha (stunningly portrayed by Zoe Saldana). When Aisha presents Clay with a plan to both get them back into the land of the Red, White and Blue and take revenge on Max, Clay readily volunteers his team to do it. Of course, in accordance with this movie's idiotic formula, before that can happen Clay and Aisha must try to kill each other and then burn down the hotel they do that in and walk away laughing about it.
This sets into motion a string of silly scenes and bogus surprises that puts The Losers and their newest member always a half-step away from putting salt on Max's tail. Meanwhile Max is setting more destruction into motion and plotting to start a war you would never believe with the help of his evil henchmen (like Holt McCallany's Wade). From this point the plot doesn't matter nearly as much as the plot devices that weakly link together the montage of semi-related sequences that seem to follow the same formula piece by piece up until the last few wise-cracking moments. If a person is on screen for long enough, they're probably going to get blown away. If an object is shown for long enough, it's probably going to be blown up. If a car is featured, it's junk, if a flying machine is pictured, it's sure to hit the ground in a fiery cloud. Mix it all together and then have Jason Patric or Jeffrey Dean Morgan make a deadpan one liner or bad pun to ice the cake and then rinse and repeat.
All the while the Losers can never decide if they want to tie up and kill Aisha, have wild sex with her or follow her to their deaths... or all of the above in any old order. While it is a pleasure to see her running around in panties, the idea that she would get into that state with Jeffrey Dean Morgan is more than a little unlikely, as are most of the things that happen in this film. Revelations happen just in the nick of time here, bad guys betray bad guys, good guys betray good guys, unlikely rescues are performed merely with distractions and every character has their own opportunity to say something witty to the audience in the hopes that laughter will tide the crowd over until the next explosion rocks the cineplex.
This is partially due to the fact that the job to adapt the comic book (by writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock) into the mess it became fell on "Dick City" himself, Peter Berg. Luckily James Vanderbilt was brought in to polish the script off, not that it helped much. Yes, Peter Berg, the bad actor, worse writer and even worse director. Thank heavens he didn't end up directing this thing as originally planned. That duty went to Sylvain White who does his best to keep the action flowing, but seems to realize he has to overshadow a lot of plot points and because-I-said-so logic with every distraction he can dazzle us with.
The one saving grace here, amazingly, is the acting. While the dialogue isn't that brilliant, somehow the talented cast takes what they've been given and makes it into something worth hearing more often than not. Morgan is believeable as both soldier and comedian, Saldana shows her beauty as well as her intellectual charm, Evans does his goofy best to keep his goofy character likeable with as many gleefully awkward and ridiculous situations as possible and even Short and Jaenada are given their moments in the sun here and there. Meanwhile, Elba's acting is very good, as usual. In case you fans of Idris Elba weren't aware, the man who plays American Bad-Asses so well, happens to have been born and bred in London and speaks with a major British Accent... which is undetectable here. Yes, the acting in this movie is definitely on the good side. This helps a lot, as does the fact that once in a while the formula does actually work and the audience is distracted by jokes and fast action enough to forgive the flaccid plot. There will be plenty of audience members who come out of this film loving it and I salute them, actually. There's nothing wrong with a little pure popcorn and fun once in an exploding blue moon. However, when it comes to good quality action films, even if they are asinine, one could do a lot better than The Losers!
Two and one half Stars out of Five for The Losers, the rapid (and vapid) fire comic book adaptation that shoots for the sky and sinks like a stoned stone. You have to check out some of the incredibly improbable action sequences here. They make John McClane's shooting down of a Helicopter with a Cop Car in Live Free or Die Hard look canny and realistic by comparison. Maybe the team breakdown should have been:
Although it makes NO LOGICAL SENSE for you to do so...
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