Opening with a shocker of a sucker punch and closing with an unsatisfying anti-climax that doubles as a shameless sequel tease, director Sylvain White’s The Losers manages to maintain a satisfying sense of energy and style for most of its running time, though it's a bit too restrained and undistinguished to leave a lasting impression.
Roughneck mercenaries Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Jensen (Chris Evans), Roque (Idris Elba), Pooch (Columbus Short), and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) are on assignment in the Bolivian jungle when they are betrayed and left for dead by rogue CIA operative Max (Jason Patric). Their names tarnished and their families devastated, the floundering team finds an unlikely ally in the form of Aisha (Zoe Saldana), a mysterious beauty who offers to smuggle them back into the United States and give them the opportunity to settle the score with the man who set them up. Of course, planning a war against the CIA and actually waging it are two very different things, and when the team attempts to capture Max things don’t go as well as they had hoped. But in addition to being incredibly resourceful, the Losers are also remarkably persistent. Now, as Max attempts to get his hands on the next-generation weapon of mass destruction, Clay and the team gear up for the one mission from which they might not return.
True to its roots, The Losers offers scene after scene of implausible action presented in grainy, hyper-saturated frames that mimic the colorful look and feel of a comic book. For a first-time action director, White knows where to place the camera to get the most out of a shot, only occasionally falling back on frantic cinematography and gimmicky editing in order to maintain a sense of high energy. Screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt dash off most of the characterization in snappy one-liners and playful banter, efficiently instilling the quirky mercenaries and their genius nemesis with flashes of personality while constantly setting their sights on the next action scene. It’s a tactic that prevents the film from ever becoming stagnant or boring -- and each of the actors is most certainly up to the task. With his persistent five-o’clock shadow and grizzled attitude, Morgan is a standout as the team leader who’s seen more than his fair share of action; Evans gets plenty of laughs as the comic relief; and Patric seems to relish his role as a sharp-dressed sociopath who would just as soon kill the henchmen who let him down than send them packing. The only place Berg and Vanderbilt really botch the job is in the final confrontation, which is already in your rearview mirror just as you think you’ve spotted it on the horizon. A brief pair of epilogues stay in step with the lighthearted action by ending the flick with a few laughs, but they fail to make up for the fact that nothing concerning the main storyline has really been resolved.
Perhaps if the filmmakers had been up-front with their intentions to create a multiple-film story arc a la Kill Bill 1 and 2, it would be understandable that they would choose to end The Losers on such an ambiguous note. As it stands, there’s no guarantee that audiences will flock to the film in numbers big enough to guarantee a sequel, quite likely leaving us with a single film that has the feel of an uncompleted puzzle instead of a fully satisfying picture.
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- Released: 2010
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Opening with a shocker of a sucker punch and closing with an unsatisfying anti-climax that doubles as a shameless sequel tease, director Sylvain White’s The Losers manages to maintain a satisfying sense of energy and style for most of its running time, tho… (more)