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Movie review: 'The Losers'

April 27, 2010|By BOB GARVER / Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan, right, and Zoe Saldana are shown in a scene from "The Losers."
Warner Bros. Pictures,

"The Losers" is a loser of a movie and the inevitable joke is out of the way. It is one of those comic book movies that never lets you forget it is from a comic book. Throughout the film, characters pose in awkward positions and have exaggerated physical characteristics that you can tell started out as drawings. Other comic book movies have done this formula - but better.

The movie starts as a team of CIA agents who are about to raid a drug camp in Bolivia. We meet the team, but the captions go by so fast we can't rely on them. The members barely have personalities, so we aren't missing much. There's The Leader, The Angry Guy, The Quiet Guy, The Guy With The Family, and the Smart-Aleck Tech Guy. They set up the camp to get bombed, but realize there are children in the camp and try to rescue them. Max, the film's villain, has other plans. Things get botched badly, and the team is forced to pretend they are dead and go into hiding, swearing eventual revenge on Max.

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Max is one of those bad guys who places such little value on human life, that one wonders how he's sane enough to be an evil genius. Early in the film he gets out of a plane with an assistant holding an umbrella. A gust of wind causes the umbrella to falter a bit in the assistant's hands, and Max kills her for it. This is supposed to tell us that Max is a perfectionist who believes in violent consequences for failure. It really tells me that Max is stupid because now he has to hold the pesky umbrella himself. Not to mention that he'll have to get rid of the body.

One day the leader of The Losers is approached by a woman (Zoe Saldana, the only marketable name in the cast) who is willing to pay him and The Losers to get revenge on Max, as well get them their lives back. She has a ton of resources, and the timing is right because Max is about to blow up a good chunk of the world in a "restoring balance" plot lifted right out of "Watchmen." The plan seems too good to be true, but the team goes along with it, not least because the leader has the hots for the girl.

The rest of the film is mostly a series of scenes of The Losers trying to obtain clues or helpful items. They'll exchange some unfunny stakeout dialogue, then there'll be lots of shooting, maybe an explosion or two and then they meet up to analyze what they've found.

Many of these sequences are set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," which means that the film is guilty of the unforgivable sin of making me hate that song. The film climaxes in a sequence where two high-ranking henchmen are actually dumb enough to get into separate vehicles and drive toward each other at full speed trying to squash the leader.

"The Losers" has the audacity to give us an unsatisfying conclusion, as if they'll have to get a sequel to give us the ending we want. This movie is not going to get a sequel, early box office reports indicate it isn't even one of the top three films in this, its opening weekend. I don't want to see a second "Losers" movie, hopefully you'll be wise enough to avoid the first one.

"The Losers" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality, and language. Its runtime is 98 minutes.

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