Directed By Sylvain White
Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans and Zoe Saldana
An elite team of Special Forces operatives double-crossed and left for dead after refusing to carry out orders that would result in the death of two dozen innocent children, The Losers are forced to live off-grid in Bolivia as their families mourn their apparent death. Desperate for revenge against their sinister handler Max, they get their chance when the gorgeous, mysterious Aisha (Saldana) offers to bankroll their operation to bring Max down. Putting their ample talents for destruction to good use, they quickly form a plan to destroy the man who wronged them, regain their normal lives and stop a plot to instigate a global war while they’re at it.
2010 is seemingly the year of The A-Team retreads. With the TV show getting its own big screen remake in a couple of months and Sylvester Stallone’s ’80s nostalgia-fueled explode-’em-up The Expendables assembling an ensemble cast of action icons to punch things witless, there’s a crowded plate when it comes to mercs-on-a-mission movies this year. And while the plots are all but interchangeable, it’s hard to imagine the other films matching The Losers when it comes to sheer fun and infectious cast camaraderie. With a cast comprised of sweaty, manly, charismatic badasses vying to out-quip and out-fight each other, there’s enough gruff machismo and testosterone oozing off the screen that you may find fistfuls of chest hair in your popcorn.
Supernatural alum Jeffrey Dean Morgan, looking like a much younger, more suave Powers Boothe (fitting since he’s landed Boothe’s role in the upcoming Red Dawn remake) make for an incredibly likeable lead as Clay, while Idris Elba as his churlish best pal Roque easily matches him line-for-line and blow-for-blow. In fact, there’s not a weak link in the ensemble. Saldana’s engaging, too, but unfortunately given little to do character-wise but smoulder and walk around scantily-clad with the camera constantly pointed at her butt. You’d be forgiven for expecting that Chris Evans would steal the show, since the chiselled slab of charisma has made a career out of doing exactly that, and while he’s as endlessly watchable and immensely charming as always, it’s actually Jason Patric as villainous Max who walks away with the movie. Patric’s always been a criminally underrated and wonderfully talented actor, but he’s never really shown comedic chops before in a role. Clearly he should have tried it sooner, since here he displays effortless comedic timing. He’s also never had this much fun with a role before, and with diabolically cool restraint and all the best lines in the script, Patric delivers a villain who is incredibly fun and utterly hilarious without stooping to the loud, camp showiness that plagues most actors in ‘evil mastermind’ roles.
It’s unfortunate then that there’s no worthwhile plot in which to find the characters and nothing especially memorable for them to do. There’s revenge plots, armoured car heists and molecule-erasing suitcase nukes, but it’s all essentially a thin framework of stock story and twists borrowed from ‘The Big Book of ’80s Action Movie Plots™’, with the cast propelled from set piece to set piece by nothing more than the backdraft of the last explosion. The Losers is undeniably fun, but the action is near impossible to recall once leaving the cinema.
It’s disposable action entertainment, but entertaining all the same while it lasts. Bolstered by a fantastic cast armed with quips a-plenty, the substantial chemistry and joke-laced banter between the leads is infectiously hilarious enough to make The Losers a joy to sit through, even if the plot and action amounts to nothing more than big, dumb, forgettable fun.
The Losers is out in cinemas on Friday in the UK.