I used to love comic-book movies, back in the day when they were more about attitude than CGI. But, between last week's Kick-Ass and now The Losers, I've lost my taste for them, because they've become the movie equivalent of that new KFC sandwich - the one that's all fat and no bread.
Earlier this week, I called for a moratorium on comic-book movies. While we're at it, how about an end to movies about quirky, plucky squads of unlikely heroes?
The Losers, actually, is only the first of this summer's crop of us-against-the-world stories which, if you want to go back that far, probably started with Robin Hood and his merry band. Oops, too late -- besides Russell Crowe as Robin Hood, this summer will feature at least two other movies about tiny teams of heroes struggling against impossible odds, while trying to figure out how to make their own quirks and oddball traits mesh together. Fans, in fact, may already be queueing up for the movie version of '80s camp TV hit The A-Team.
The Losers is like The A-Team's farm squad -- call them the D-Team. Or perhaps the 2-D team, since this film doesn't exist in three dimensions in any sense -- indeed, it struggles to reach that second level.
Everyone in this contrived conclave has a specialty, of course - weapons, driving, technology - and everyone has a personality trait that makes them stand out - the crazy one, the one with the bad attitude, the wisecracker and so forth.
Another part of the formula: This team gets double-crossed and has to find its place in the world as outlaws, battling impossible odds ... well, you know the drill.
Directed by Sylvain White, The Losers has a script full of weak attempts at humor and a plot that would barely pass muster in a comic book (which, of course, was the movie's source material - heaven forbid that anyone would actually write an original script). The squad in question -- CIA, black ops, super-secret yadda yadda -- is double-crossed while on a mission in Bolivia. They think they're taking out a terrorist cell but, in fact, they are being manipulated by CIA mastermind and madman Max (Jason Patric), who narrowly misses killing off the whole squad.
So the leader, Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), has them hole up in a small Bolivian town -- at least until they are approached by a good-looking woman offering them big bucks for a chance to take down Max. Aisha (Zoe Saldana) packs a punch (and a kick) -- and convinces Clay and his team that she can get them back to the U.S. and within killing distance of Max. Max, meanwhile, has his own secret plan, securing a doomsday device to ... well, why does anyone secure a doomsday device?
Many gun battles and fiery explosions ensue, all of them free of the slightest whiff of excitement or suspense. Clay and Aisha hook up, though Saldana and Morgan have the chemistry of two strangers who just met at a tax audit. Max tosses off numerous sarcastic quips, but the writing has less punch than an Andy of Mayberry rerun. And even if it were stronger, Patric doesn't have the sense of wicked fun to carry off the comedy.
None of that matters, of course. There's an adolescent audience just panting to see this blend of boredom and bang-gang. The sequel is already in place. Pardon me if I don't start lining up just yet.
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