The trash explosion’s fuse was lit early this year. Why wait for the dog days of summer when you can get The Losers now? Staying awake during this ordeal of incompetent, incomprehensible stupidity is not difficult. It’s so noisy that you can hear it in the next town. Staying interested is something else entirely.
Here is yet another DC comic book targeted for an army of brain-dead kids, with animated action heroes brought to life without a shred of wit, imagination or cinematic talent. The plot, which you could carve on the head of a carpet tack, involves yet another “Special Forces Unit” (whatever that is) composed of five rogue C.I.A. operatives on a secret terrorist-finding mission who get double-crossed by yet another C.I.A. master villain called Max. Ambushed, deserted and targeted for death, on a plane that blows up with 25 innocent children on their way to safety, the team is deserted in the Bolivian jungle and presumed dead. The rest of the movie is about how they survive, get out of the jungle and head for Miami via Dubai, Mumbai, Texas, the Mexican border and the port of Los Angeles, to clear their names and get revenge. Typical of the hurdles they are forced to endure is a near-fatal hook-up with yet another sexy, karate-chopping operative named Aisha (Zoe Saldana), who is also tracking Max with an agenda that is never satisfactorily explained. When the captain of the Losers (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) takes her to his bedroom, they beat the hell out of each other for no reason whatsoever and set the hotel on fire. Naturally, they end up in sheets that haven’t seen the inside of a Laundromat in several years. Not much to look forward to in Bolivia.
As much as I hated Avatar, Ms. Saldana looked better painted blue. It is never clear who she is or where she works, but she’s tougher than the rest of the Losers put together. (When she was a child, she collected human ears.) Max (Jason Patric) is the kind of C.I.A. SOB who dresses like Tennessee Williams; promises one billion dollars to Dubai thugs for atomic missiles so powerful they haven’t even been invented yet; then blows out the brains of an over-endowed Lolita who drops his umbrella. Planning an international terrorist conflict with weapons that will change the world, Mr. Patric has the most fun of anybody, probably because he’s the best actor. The team’s computer hacking geek is played by Chris Evans, who wisely vacillates between Tennessee Williams scripts (The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond) and crapola that makes money, like the Fantastic Four flicks. The rest of the cast is as memorable as last week’s egg foo yong. Racing to the rescue to save their country, the indestructible Losers get burned, stabbed, slashed, blown through windshields, thrown through plate glass windows and bombed by special effects, with no more damage than a paper cut. One gets shot in both legs and still walks away, like somebody on a Jerry Lewis telethon. I guess it doesn’t matter that none of this violent nonsense makes one lick of sense. To me, movies about the C.I.A. never do. I always wonder how covert operatives (that word again) manage to blow up whole cities, and it never even makes the papers. Gullible people are so conditioned to hate the government that you can tell them the C.I.A. is hiding Osama bin Laden in a Georgetown townhouse next door to Hillary Clinton and they’ll believe it.
The Losers is targeted at—and marketed for—them, and an audience of kids who couldn’t care less. The script, by James Vanderbilt (no relation to Gloria) and a once-gifted actor named Peter Berg, sounds like it was written with soft No. 2 lead pencils on Big Chief tablet paper. As a director, Sylvain White would make a much better sanitation worker. He is clueless about how to tell a story with any kind of arc. The producer is Joel Silver, who has made a career out of dispensing junk, and as long as the junk makes money, it will proliferate. Kids may enjoy The Losers enough to wish for more. At the end, the evil Max phones again, assuring all and sundry that his death has been as overrated as honesty on Wall Street, and guaranteeing a sequel. Next time, I’ll plan to be out of town.
Running time: 96 minutes
Written by: Peter Berg, James Vanderbilt
Directed by: Sylvain White
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Jason Patric
1 Eyeball out of 4