Review: The Losers = The A-Team Lite, and That's OK!

Most of movie is the cast pulling off big heists while crackin' wise and looking good, but the real villain is familiarity

By Peter Paras Apr 23, 2010 3:30 AMTags
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Review in a Hurry: An elite special forces unit is double-crossed and left for dead. Hoping to exact revenge on the criminal mastermind behind the plot, they become...The A-Team! Oops, that's not till June.

What The Losers does deliver, though, is a pretty cool cast pulling off heists while crackin' wise and lookin' good. The real villain is familiarity, though, and the script is riddled with it.

The Bigger Picture: A story about a group of misfit mercenaries is really only as good as its cast, and in that way alone, The Losers is a winner. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans and Zoe Saldana round out a very strong ensemble, sporting big grins and guns.

In particular, Evans, who has played the part of comic relief before (The Fantastic Four), never misses the chance to shine, and elicits some big laughs from some weird situations. We're still not entirely convinced he can be Captain America (due next year) but as Jensen, a smack-talking dude who sings a mean rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" while posing as a dorky bike messenger, he's tops.

Morgan (Watchmen) is the de facto leader of the losers and straight man to Evans' antics. As for Saldana (Avatar), the truth is, she's mostly just eye candy with very little to do. But that's OK, if you look like that and can shoot a bazooka in slo-mo.

In fact, with oversaturated colors and snappy editing, you'll hardly have time to think about why a veteran actor like Jason Patric (as the villainous Max) is in a film like this. Like Evans, he's also pretty funny, but it's still a strange fit.

If The Losers had only been judged by its cast then it's a success; it's that pesky story thing here that causes the film to fray at the edges. Written by James Vanderbilt and Peter Berg, The Losers is a really just a standard action pic, albeit with much needed witty banter (Vanderbilt's next big project is the Spider-Man reboot).

But when it's not funny, exchanges are rote. Sure, Elba (The Wire) as the team's hothead can pull off the generic "Don't you see? They won, we lost!"—but he could do so much more. Saddling him with less obvious dialogue would have been a plus.

Also, while this is a mostly successful presummer popcorn flick, even those having a fun time should be ready for a few last act mashups that feel really obvious.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The action scenes range from pedestrian to outright confusing. Nearly every shot that involves hand-to-hand is a mess. We know Zoe Saldana isn't Jackie Chan, but a few well-choreographed punches woulda been nice.


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