That said, as much fun as the smashing, crashing, shoot 'em up, blow things up moments are, the plot itself leaves a lot to be desired. I found myself totally confused and lost trying to piece it all together. In fact, about halfway through I decided to give up and just let myself be entertained by the film's intense action bits and clever humor, and never mind trying to connect all the dots.
I'm still not sure what was really going on - other than 'The Losers' were out for revenge after being set up by a man known as Max. The Losers left me feeling like I'd been handed two or three different incomplete jigsaw puzzles and asked to make one finished picture out of the pieces. Maybe if I was a follower of the comic book series that inspired this film, I would have had an easier time fitting everything together.
The StoryClay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is the leader of a Special Ops force made up of highly trained men who each have their own specialties. Jensen (Chris Evans) is the team's computer wizard, Pooch (Columbus Short) is their transportation and heavy weapons guy, Roque (Idris Elba) is the explosives expert, and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) is their sharpshooter who lets his guns do all the talking for him. Their latest mission is a search and destroy operation in Bolivia, but when they see children in the village they've called in an air strike to hit, they try and get the bombing mission aborted.
Their request is denied so with just eight minutes to go before the air strike hits, they take on the heavily armed men guarding the target and rescue the kids with barely seconds to spare before the area is destroyed. To assure the kids are taken to safety, the team gives up their seats on the rescue helicopter. But just after it lifts off, Max, the mysterious man who wouldn't allow their abort requests to go through, orders it shot down. Max doesn't know the team wasn't onboard, so everyone believes they've perished in the fiery crash. Max also rigs it so that they're blamed for the decimation of the village.
An opportunity to clear their names presents itself when Aisha (Zoe Saldana) shows up and says she not only knows who Max is but how to get to him. Aisha's as good at handling weapons as she is striking to look at, and she's ready to lead the group on what she admits is likely to be a suicide assault against Max. With nothing to lose, The Losers follow Aisha's plan which involves lots of high-powered weapons, a hijacked helicopter, and an all-out assault against Max and his cohorts.
The ActingThe Losers wouldn't work at all if you couldn't buy into these five as a Special Ops team. Morgan, Evans, Elba, Short, and Jaenada went through intensive training in order to at least look like they could handle themselves in gun battles and explosive situations, and that training pays off onscreen. As the leader of The Losers, Morgan kicks things up a notch, playing the hard-nosed yet compassionate leader, the guy who has the group's fate resting on his shoulders.
Short and Evans make for a terrific team, providing most of the comic relief in the film. And Evans is the star of the film's most memorable scene. No spoilers here, but you'll never look at a bike messenger getting on an elevator quite the same way again.
Elba is terrific (as usual) and Jaenada is fine as the sniper who picks off his targets from impossible locations. Jaenada only utters about 10 words the whole film, but the camera loves him and dialogue isn't really necessary for his character.
Jason Patric tackles the role of the film's villain, Max, and playing a bad guy's a real departure for Patric. Patric chews some scenery, playing Max - a megalomaniac who should be locked away in a looney bin but instead works for the CIA - with gleeful enthusiasm.
The Bottom LineThe action in The Losers is first-rate, with director White delivering truly imaginative, innovative, and unexpected thrills that are a rung or two above most action films. While there's some very clever dialogue sprinkled throughout the film, what holds The Losers back is the lack of a coherent plot. Yet even with the flawed plot, The Losers is, surprisingly, a lot of fun. It won't be winning any screenplay awards, but it does deliver on its action promises.
Theatrical Release: April 23, 2010