By Brian Lafferty
April 23, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Losers is an action movie that had no effect on me except for making my eyes glaze over. It stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Watchmen, TV’s Supernatural) and Zoe Saldana. There are moments of great inventiveness, which include grabbing an armored car using a magnet attached to a chopper…taking place in broad daylight in front of downtown commuter traffic. The problem? This film is nothing special. I just didn’t care.
The movie begins full speed with a CIA mission in Bolivia. The titular characters appear to succeed in assassinating a terrorist. They rescue twenty-five children acting as mules. Tragedy befalls them, however. Their boss, Max (Jason Patric), double crosses them. With no room for both the kids and the team, the Losers opt to have the kids take their place. The chopper leaves and is promptly shot down on orders from Max. The Losers were the intended targets. Revenge, of course, is in order.
The action in The Losers is lackluster. The shootouts are boring; simply having characters shoot at each other is not exciting to watch. The special effects are very subpar. The CGI is obvious at times, particularly when there are explosions.
Another problem involves the characters. We know very little about our heroes except one has a pregnant wife at home and one is such a huge fan of a soccer team called the Petunias that he unapologetically sports the team color, which happens to be pink. We know very little about their backgrounds and they are still strangers to us even by the time the end credits start rolling.
Max, the villain of this piece, is one-dimensional. There is no clear explanation given as to why he wants the team dead. The motivation for selling the weapons is flimsy at best and makes so little sense that describing it is pointless. He is a cliché, a bad guy who knows he’s evil. I suspect if he were to have a mustache he’d be twirling it a lot.
That does not mean everything is boring. The movie has a lot of twists. Some are contrived, including a major double-cross towards the end. But there are some that come out of nowhere. In one scene a team member, Jensen, is trapped on the top floor of a building by three armed security guards. There’s no escape; the elevator doesn’t arrive in time.
Yet, screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt do something unexpected. Jensen tells the men he is capable of psychokinesis, shapes his fingers like guns, and pretends to fire. We think he’s being desperate but not until Cougar, the sharpshooter, fires three rounds into them from the building across the street.
It’s scenes like that and the armored car scene that I liked the most. I wish they had a stronger story and three-dimensional characters to go with it. Instead these scenes stick out, indicative of a movie that could have been better.
The Losers is an example of why story is important. For those who say action movies don’t need a story, I refer you to the work of James Cameron. His movies contain some of the more exceptional action sequences and groundbreaking special effects committed to celluloid but also leave room for three dimensional characters we care about and a solid story. This film contains neither.
A Warner Bros. release. Director: Sylvain White. Screenplay: Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, based on the comic book series by Andy Diggle and Jock. Original Music: John Ottman. Cinematography: Scott Kevan. Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, and Jason Patric. Running Time: 97 minutes. Rated PG-13.