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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hollywood Product: The Losers

click to enlarge THE RIGHT STUFF: (left to right) Saldana, Evans, Morgan, Columbus, Elba and Jaenada make up The Losers, in theaters Friday, April 23.
  • THE RIGHT STUFF: (left to right) Saldana, Evans, Morgan, Columbus, Elba and Jaenada make up The Losers, in theaters Friday, April 23.

GENRE: Renegade action movie

THE PITCH: Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his CIA black ops team is presumed dead and framed for a crime they didn’t commit in Bolivia. Desperate to get their lives back and exact revenge against their CIA handler Max (Jason Patric),  the team is enlisted by Aisha (Zoe Saldana) to embark on a suicide mission to kill Max and stop his plot to start an international incident. The story is based on the Vertigo comic book of the same name by Andy Diggle.

MONEY SHOTS: Clay and Aisha make fast acquaintances in his hotel room, but things get a bit too touchy feely when they break out into fisticuffs instead of playing hide the Johnson. It’s a knock down, drag out brawl full of breaking chairs, throwing bottles, lots of wall slams and at least one nut crushing blow  – now that’s what I call foreplay.

BEST LINES: After firing a missile from a jury-rigged, homemade launcher Pooch (Columbus Short) gives himself a round of kudos saying, “I’m the Black MacGyver – I’m Bla-Gyver!”  Jensen (Chris Evans) and Roque (Idris Elba) play possum on a stretch of deserted highway. Jensen calls for assistance and criticizes his own performance. Roque tells him to shut up, but Jensen explains, “I’m spinal injury and you’re dead. Spinal can talk, dead can’t.”

I’M GONNA GET YOU SUCKA: Clay is pissed after the failed attempt to kill him and his team. As they come to terms with what just transpired and the reality of the setup sinks in, Clay marches off to secure a way back home and track Max down. Roque tries his best to rationalize with him, considering they don’t know anything about their former handler. As he pulls away from Roque, Clay calmly states, “I got his voice. The man’s got a voice, he’s got a throat.”

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: While enjoying some carne asada at a bar in Bolivia, Clay sips on a Dos Equis. Back in the states, Roque and Clay stake out Max’s vehicle escort in a beat up, old Ford Pinto wagon. On their final assault again Max, the team discovers Max has a big ol’ yellow stretch Hummer. Wade (Holt McCallany), Max’s right hand man tries to stop their hijacked escape plan from leaving them. He chases the plane on a brand new Ducati motorcycle.

SLOW YOUR ROLL: Nothing makes a team totally badass like a group frame shot in slow motion. Typically we see this when astronauts are trying to show they got the “right stuff,” but we see it a lot in action movies too – usually after shit blows up. The Losers are so good-looking and fuckin’ bad, they don’t have one, but three slow motion walk sequences in the film. If that doesn’t mean there’s some foot-to-ass coming, I don’t know what is.

HERE COMES THE BOOM: You can’t have mercs without stuff blowing up. There’s six killer explosions: four that will have you saying, “oh shit,” and two that’s just “meh.”  While it’s not quite an explosion, Arabs demonstrate their newest weapon, the Snuke – a sonic dematerializer that has the capability of reducing a small island to powder.

BODY COUNT: Midway through the film, the body count was at 30, but towards the end there’s just too many soldiers catching bullets to keep count. There were about 29 senseless killings mainly to illustrate Max was not someone to toy with.

BOTTOM LINE: At first glance, the movie feels like a rip-off of the A-Team. The team is only slightly different from the TV show’s cache of characters, even to the tune of reluctantly adding a female to the mix. Evans and Short are clearly there to deliver the funny, while Jeffreys and Elba add some tension to keep the story weighted to the flimsy plot. Saldana’s character Aisha definitely adds some heat to the mix, but leaves poor Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) sadly fishing for random one-liners.

One thing that sets the film apart from its TV predecessor is the Loser’s deadly, snarky nemesis, Max. Always one step ahead of his former charges, Max adds an element of danger to the story in plot and persona. Patric's expressionless gaze and flippant demeanor is both irritating and captivating throughout most of the movie.

The Losers has an interesting premise, some decent fight scenes and dynamic explosions, too bad all those things can’t plug the numerous holes in this film’s plot. Midway through watching, you’re confused as to what they’re trying to accomplish: stop a catastrophe or just get Max. This tug of war, gets more confusing as the story desperately tries to seam the two together near the film’s resolve at the anti-climatic ending. The Losers gets a thumbs up for delivering a satisfying mashup of explosive action and light-hearted fun, but hands down, it sorely lacks the glue to sensibly hold the whole thing together.

The Losers. 2 Stars. Directed by Sylvain White. Stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Chris Evans. Rated R. Opens Friday, April 23 In area theaters.

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