Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Losers" (2010)

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans
Written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt
Directed by Sylvain White

Based on the comic book of the same name, "The Losers" stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen") and Zoe Saldana ("Star Trek").  Morgan plays Colonel Clay, leader of a special ops outfit sent on a search-and-destroy mission into Bolivia which goes horribly wrong when they learn that their intended target has children present.  When they try to call off the air strike, they are informed by a mysterious voice calling himself Max that the mission is on regardless of the children.  The team disobeys orders and goes into the compound to rescue the children, and place them successfully into their evac helicopter.

Unfortunately, the helicopter is quickly taken out by Max, killing all the children, and the blame is placed on Clay and his team.  They go on the run, leaving behind their friends and family, unable to return to the US.  That is, until Clay is contacted by a woman named Aisha (Saldana) who tells them where and when to find Max, and will help them get back into the US if they'll help her take him out.  Clay gathers up his team once more, including Roque (Idris Elba), Jensen (Chris Evans), Pooch (Columbus Short) and Cougar (Oscar Janeda), and they stage a hijacking of a truck they believe Max is traveling in.  Instead, they find a computer hard drive, and the team begins to suspect Aisha is screwing with them.  But against the team's protestations, Clay continues with the plan and tries to get the code that will unlock the information on the drive, hoping to use it as leverage against Max.

Meanwhile, Max (Jason Patric) has made a deal to acquire some kind of sonic disintegrator, a weapon called a "snuke" that can be as destructive as a nuclear weapon without all the dangerous radiation afterward.  All he needs now is the money he's promised to his dealers: money that the Losers have stolen from him.

Bla bla bla, some other stuff happens, and then there's a showdown.  If it seems like I'm a bit impatient here it's because I am.  "The Losers" is not a good movie.  Parts of it are somewhat enjoyable; there's some witty banter between the team, mostly from Chris Evans, and a couple of inspired sequences, but for the most part, it's a dull mess.  The whole thing feels like a low-rent version of "The A-Team," to be frank.  The setup is the same - special ops soldiers framed for a crime they didn't commit.  But the Losers are definitely the B-Team, at best. 

Chris Evans steals the entire picture.  He gets all the best lines.  The two best scenes in the movie, in fact, occur during the end credits, the second of which features the team (still wanted by the law, for some reason) sneaking out to watch Jensen's niece play soccer, and Evans gets into an argument with the ref over a bad call.  The other best moment of the film is when Evans infiltrates a corporate headquarters dressed as a bike messenger and singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." 

Otherwise, the action sequences are fairly small-scale, and not particularly interesting.  What's supposed to be the climactic fight between Clay and the traitorous Roque (Oh, sorry, did I spoil that for you?) looks cheap and unconvincing.  I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan; he's got good presence and I always enjoy watching him work, but "The Losers" doesn't give him much to do of any worth.  The fight between Clay and Roque looks like they just shot it on the fly without really bothering to plan anything and while that can sometimes give the impression of a more realistic fight, here it just looks like two actors fumbling about.  Director Sylvain White's insistence on using first-person camera angles during it doesn't help either, since neither actor seems comfortable with it.

If you must watch "The Losers," rent it for a rainy afternoon.  Have some fun watching Chris Evans crack jokes, but don't expect anything memorable or particularly entertaining.