'The A-Team' wannabes
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, 'The Losers'
We're about as far from the quasi-lefty "Bourne" franchise as a moviegoer can get. Here, when enemies or even collateral-damage bystanders are wiped out (sometimes with tranquilizer darts, more often with real bullets, though the film barely distinguishes between the two), it's smirks and sub-James Bond-level wisecracks all around.
Except when children are involved. In the prologue, Jason Patric as a shadowy CIA-backed antagonist orders an assault on a helicopter full of adorable Bolivian kids. This is what sends our titular losers, Special Forces warriors assigned to wipe out a drug cartel, over the edge and off the grid. Presumed dead, the team led by Clay ( Jeffrey Dean Morgan,whose blase approach to the material suggests a bearded Perry Como) vows revenge and bloodshed and 'splosions.
With the help of a butt-kicking, butt-waving colleague (Saldana), that's what they do and that's what "The Losers" delivers. Director Sylvain White ("Stomp the Yard") doesn't edit action scenes so much as turn each micro-beat into a trading card with a fireball in the background. For all its insidious slickness — the deeply saturated, massively bright imagery comes courtesy of cinematographer Scott Kevan — the film is easier to take than, say, "Kick-Ass" or "V for Vendetta," both of which came to the screen saddled with misguided pretentions. No pretentions here.
Even so, the politics are slippery. Throughout, artfully dodgy images of American flags — or, in the pointed case of its heinous villain played by Patric, a U.S. flag lapel pin — signify hypocrisy and slaughter at the ready. The movie's laden with other hypocrisies as well. "Enough of this revenge bushwa," says one Loser, though I may have misheard "bushwa." It's a punch line: The movie is all revenge, all the time. Later, a minor character from India, forced to implement a doomsday "sonic de-materializer," decries his colleague's "Yankee Doodle tough-guy bushwa." And yet what would "The Losers" be without it?
✭1/2 The Losers – 98 min. Rated PG-13:
Action/violence, sensuality, language