After a deadly betrayal by a mysterious, “voice” that calls himself Max, five close-knit CIA operatives are forced to disappear, fall off the grid, and live defeated, non-existent lives. Getting back at Max is essentially what The Losers is all about. Clay, the leader of the group, stages a bid for revenge against Max, with the help of Aisha, a deadly woman who seeks revenge for her own personal reasons.
Here, in 2010, we’re seeing the re-emergence of these kind of team-based buddy films and with upcoming movies such as The A-Team and The Expendables, I have to admit, I hold a guilty-pleasure giddiness in anticipation of these movies. Perhaps a big part is nostalgia from having grown up in the 80’s. I came into the Losers with that giddiness and excitement, but in the end was ultimately let down.
The film starts with a forgettable intro sequence and job description of each member – which is about as deep as the movie gets with its characters. We simply know they’re the good guys because they risked everything in an attempt to save some children. Max is the bad guy because he blew up the children. The only thing that survived the heap of twisted metal is a stuffed bear. The five losers don’t have a lot of complexity to them, but hey, this is a fun action movie. The film instead relies on the humor and fun-loving camaraderie they have with each other, but unfortunately each funny line, bad joke, and chummy fist bump feels contrived due to awkward delivery, bad writing, and just odd placement. There is absolutely no seamless integration of this kind of fun. But don’t get me wrong, there are a few rare moments where this does work, just watch the trailer to see them all.
The Losers are a mobile bunch jetting across multiple continents and racking up some serious frequent flyer miles for their revenge scheme (and coincidentally stopping Max from shipping out new and terrifying weapons of mass destruction), and the films $25 million dollar budget keeps these locations tight. This is an impressive, ambitious feat for that budget, even if the film doesn’t explore every alley and side street of the locale.
However, the real flop in this film is Slyvian White’s direction. There are good actors in this film, Chris Evans, Jefferey Dean Morgan, and Zoe Saldana, all reach for what they can, but they’re just not given much fun stuff to do. Chances for their character quirks to shine during slow moments of exposition are lost and instead we’re just given just that: boring, slow moments of exposition. White’s Director of Photography, Scott Keavens, is doing his best Tony Scott impression through natural lighting and shaky-cam, and the editor followed his lead with kinetic cuts everywhere in the movie. All of which didn’t quite work, because the film doesn’t have the same electricity and intensity of a Scott movie and the action and fight sequences were too few and sub-par.
The Losers gave up what slight chance it had at stylistic ingenuity through badly chosen derivatives and careless artistic choices. The actors were wasted on an unpolished script that had them spouting lines that they themselves didn’t seem to commit to, and the directors vision, while ambitious, was unfocused. The film lacked any exciting action sequences, and the caper scenes ignored the opportunity to use these unique characters for clever execution. The film hinged itself on fist bumps, hand slaps, and slo-mo, which got boring very quickly. I didn’t expect this movie to be great; I hoped it to be clever and, lots of fun.