Not a total loss.
The Losers will not blow you away like Zoë Saldana's rocket launcher, but it still fires off a couple of successful rounds. Based on a comic book by Andy Diggle, The Losers does its best to stand out from other action flicks by emphasizing its colorful origins. It has multiple comic art interludes and a devastating WMD with a name out of South Park and science out of G.I. Joe. But don't be fooled, this is very much your standard 1980's action movie fare.
The script is jam-packed with comic relief, and this is where the film shines. It has more jokes per minute than any other action movie not made by Michael Bay. This isn't a bunch of robot ball jokes though (not that there is anything wrong with that). The comedy here is often as inspired as something out of an Apatow film. But for all the charms of the dialogue; the story is incredibly banal. There is a plot twist in the final act that is so cliché and obvious that it actually ruins the movies.
Like last week's Kick Ass, the direction here is not suited for action. There are some really cool explosions, and better fight scenes than Kick Ass, but cinematography here doesn't capture it in a way that it is at all exhilarating to watch. Unlike Kick Ass, the comedy scenes aren't even shot and edited for full effect. The actors here have excellent comedic timing, the pedestrian directing makes many of the good jokes fall flat.
Ultimately it is The Losers themselves who save the film from being a complete disaster. The acting across the board is phenomenal for a standard action movie. Columbus Short steals the show as The Losers' getaway driver Pooch; Chris Evens does a nice alteration on his usual shtick, and Zoë Saldana delivers another reliable performance. Idris Elba is impressive in even the worst films and this is not even close to being his worst. The weakest link here is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but even he is serviceable. The performances lead you to be emotionally invested in the characters even though the script never gives you a reason to be.
Because of the strong cast and decent jokes, The Losers is way better than it really should be. Still it lacks the impact of competent direction and it never gets your blood pumping in the way you would expect from an action film. This is definitely worth a rent when it comes out on DVD, but there is no reason to waste your money going to see it in theatres.