Yesterday we caught a matinee of “The Losers,” the second entry in the Early Summer Action Movie Collection (first entry: Kick-Ass). “The Losers” stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (hereafter: “The Comedian”), Idris Elba (hereafter: “Idris Elba”), and Chris Evans (hereafter: “Captain America”) as members of an elite military team that accidentally do something terrible and are excommunicated from the military for their crimes. If it sounds like the A-Team, well, yeah, it is, except here our heroes are presumed dead.
They spend about 3 minutes in a terrible hell called “the paradise of Bolivia,” where they get depressed about their shapeless life of drinking, eating extremely tasty cart food, and (for The Comedian) hooking up with impressively violent, hot women played by Zoe Saldana. So they decide to mount up and take revenge on the psycho that got them in trouble in the first place, by teaming up with Saldana’s character and returning to form in the U.S.
What follows after are a sequence of events in which all of the things that Tom Cruise made look very difficult and yet possible in the Mission:Impossible movies (breaking into secure headquarters, stealing top-flight technology, hacking mainframes, getting your hands on high-tech government equipment) end up looking like something that a crew of college pranksters could pull off, if only one of them happened to be extremely good with a long-range weapon (hereafter: Óscar Jaenada). There are very few serious moments in “The Losers,” and all of them are reserved for Idris Elba’s character, Roque, named not for the cheese but apparently for the seriousness with which he approaches his task of being the group’s biggest stick-in-the-mud.
Playing against him is The Comedian as Clay, the colonel/leader of the losers, who is perpetually wearing a suit jacket and a smirk and often two or three guns. He cares about his men, he cares about his reputation, and he cares deeply about getting revenge for the wrongs done them all by the supervillain of this story, Max (Jason Patric).
Clay’s constant suit jacket and Max’s extremely annoying, over-the-top supervillainy patter are two clues to the source material for this movie; the third clue came from the super-imposed, block-lettered names of every place the movie visits. Yes, it’s adapted from a comic book series of the same name, written by Andy Diggle and drawn by Jock. (I haven’t read the series, but I hear good things).
“The Losers” could’ve been a contender for a break-out summer action film in any other season; this year, I think, it’s already overshadowed by the upcoming A-Team movie that will tread similar ground albeit with the flying tank and the advantage of some already familiar characters. It’s also so centered on its wise-cracking characters and their superior abilities that it fails, in large sections, to make what they’re doing look difficult. These guys are such professional action heroes that the movie is never particularly tense or exciting — they are, in fact, the antithesis of their name, warm-hearted, sharp-tongued always-do-right guys who just happen to momentarily be caught in a bad situation. We know, by the rules of comic books and action heroes, that they will win the day, “losers” or not. (It doesn’t help that conclusion of a few major scenes are spoiled in the trailer).
Ultimately, it’s a fun, witticism-filled romp, but not the heart-pumping adrenaline festival that I think “The A-Team” and “Iron Man 2” (cannot wait!) promise.