Originally published at Cinemaknifefight.com.
One of the earliest revelations you’ll have while watching the first 10 to 15 minutes of THE LOSERS (PG-13) is that the movie’s title refers to the audience and not anyone in the film.
Directed by Sylvain White, this hollow action-adventure movie adapts the Vertigo Comics series written by Andy Diggle from 2003 to 2006. THE LOSERS tells the story of a team of special forces operatives who wage war on Max (Jason Patric), a rogue CIA agent who double-crosses them in the Bolivian Jungle. Helping them (or is she…?) on their suicide mission is Aisha (Zoe Saldana), who has her own reasons to want Max dead.
Listen, it’s not like I can’t enjoy a brainless action-adventure movie at face value. Whether it’s some flick featuring Bruce Willis, Jason Strathan, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, I can dial down the synapses in my brain that require logic, theme, and good acting. But good action films find some way to pop off the screen even though they don’t entirely make sense. There’s always a “That’s so %@#$ing cool!” factor that makes you feel okay about seeing a movie that will NEVER win a critical award.
THE LOSERS never pops. Not once.
It fizzles, it flails, and it struggles. But it never pops. Improbable yet predictable high-tech heists and action sequences include lots of generic explosions and shoot-em-ups, as well as slow-motion, fast-motion, jump shots, jiggle-cam, wiggle-cam, and steady-cam camera tricks. There’s also the required fast-talking, quips, quirks, sneers, and one-liners. Crosses, double-crosses, and triple-crosses jerk the film’s plot around like a rag doll. Heck, this film has more crosses littered across its landscape than the Vatican.
The black ops team includes Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Chris Evans), Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), and Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), all providing performances ranging from flat to downright annoying. Morgan’s role was particularly disappointing as I’d really enjoyed his depiction of The Comedian in WATCHMEN (2009).
Zoe Saldana, who earned her geek street cred in both STAR TREK (2009) and AVATAR (2009), was apparently cast for THE LOSERS for the sole purpose of not wearing a lot of clothing. On a fundamental level … I’m okay with that. Still, I don’t like to pay over $10 for that which I can get for free on the Internet.
But perhaps the most aggravating actor in the film is Jason Patric as ‘Max’, an oddly nonsensical villain whose plastic comedic presence grates the nerves almost constantly. One wonders if Patric thought he was in a Wayans Brothers spoof movie on the action-adventure genre.
One also has to wonder if Weed Road Pictures pushed out this flat ensemble explosion-fest solely to tap an audience looking forward to the upcoming THE A-TEAM (2010) remake. If so, they got it wrong.
I’ll still go see THE A-TEAM and THE EXPENDABLES (2010), but this is more despite THE LOSERS, and not because of it.