‘Losers’ lives up to its title

“The Losers”

Staring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana

Rating: PG-13

Pitchforks: 2.5 out of 5 pitchforks

“The Losers” is like a series of action sequences and dialogue stolen from other movies and rolled into one ludicrous film.

There’s the big heist scene in which the characters steal a truck via a helicopter and giant magnet, the scene where somebody breaks into an office building to download a file and, of course, the inevitable shot of the heroes walking in slow motion with the American flag in the background.

Along the way there are more shootouts and explosions than one could possibly desire. Sometimes the experience is actually kind of amusing. But most of the time it’s just bland and shallow.

Based on a series of graphic novels, “The Losers” follows five members of a United States Special Forces unit with the names Clay, Roque, Cougar, Pooch and Jensen. (What a colorful and outlandish group of names, huh?) The unit, portrayed by actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Oscar Jaenada, Columbus Short and Chris Evans, respectively, is betrayed on a mission to Bolivia.

They then embark on an operation to find the man who double-crossed them and tried to have them murdered. Along the way, the feisty Aisha (played by Zoe Saldana of “Star Trek” and “Avatar” fame), a woman who may have an agenda of her own, accompanies them.

What makes it difficult to root for any of these characters is how egotistical and self-aware they are. All the people in this movie seem to think that they’re the bomb when they’re really about as fascinating and unique as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everything the characters say seems to be a one-liner — like they’re fully conscious that they’re in a ridiculous action movie.

This would be acceptable if the one-liners were humorous. Instead, they’re just uninspired and lazy, as if a student fresh out of high school crafted the screenplay.

The only person in the movie who ever has anything interesting to say is Jason Patric as Max, a villainous madman who wants to manufacture weapons of mass destruction capable of destroying an entire island. Patric is so over-the-top here that he makes John Travolta’s train-jacking villain in “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” seem believable. But at least when Patric was on screen, I expected to be entertained.

That’s more than I can say about any of the other characters.

Despite the film’s flaws, I did find myself getting caught up in some of the preposterous action sequences. This is a well-stylized movie, and the cast clearly had a fun time making it.

The problem is that director Sylvain White, who made “Stomp the Yard” and the straight-to-DVD “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer,” never quite decides what he wants to accomplish with “The Losers.” He appears to want to make a trashy, completely outrageous piece of entertainment like “Wanted.”

I feel like that 2008 Angelina Jolie hit worked, though, because the filmmakers went all the way with the absurdity and never looked back. “The Losers” on the other hand, seems to be restraining itself.

If the film has gone that extra mile, I may have been tempted to recommend it as splashy, mindless fun. Ultimately, though, the final result is just mixed.

Reach the reporter at nspake@asu.edu


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