The Losers Review

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On assignment in Bolivia, a team of Special Ops soldiers is betrayed by a mysterious, powerful man named Max (Patric). Seeking revenge, they’re approached by the equally enigmatic Aisha (Saldana), a woman with her own reasons for hating Max, who offers th


If the A-Team's plan was to carve out a niche this blockbuster season as the only blend of comedy and gunplay featuring a group of double-crossed soldiers, each blessed with top-notch military abilities and wise-cracking team spirit, they really needed to escape the stockade a little earlier. Because here come The Losers.

Adapted from the Vertigo graphic novel by writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock (itself a reimagining of an earlier DC title about a team formed from all branches of America’s various forces), Sylvain White’s attempt is a powder keg, one that cheerfully includes the expected clichés and survives thanks to a comic-book-inspired visual style and the frothy charisma of its ensemble. A sort of Ocean’s Eleven with explosions, it’s the cast who shine, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s laidback but bitter commander Clay, Chris Evans as the jokester tech operative, Idris Elba giving good snarl as Roque, Clay’s tough second-in-command, Columbus Short’s transportation expert Pooch, and Óscar Jaenada as Cougar, the ace sniper who largely lets his gun do the talking. Plus there’s Zoe Saldana’s Aisha, who proves that the actress doesn’t need to be blue to give the boys a few lessons in the art of kicking arse. Together they’re a winning combination, able to deliver the sort of sparky interplay that indicates a cast that has bonded brilliantly on set.

Even the villain is fun, with Jason Patric’s Max remaining cool as a cucumber as he casually slaughters a female assistant for failing to properly shade him with an umbrella, or casually tells off his right-hand man for misinterpreting a nod as an order to throw someone off a building instead of simply punching them in the face. Patric’s performance keys into the film’s sense of never taking itself too seriously, and sees the actor at his most entertaining for many a year. Can you say possible career rebound?

There’s not a whole lot of true jeopardy here — the plot about a sonic bomb MacGuffin is really just a skeleton on which to hang the explosive set-pieces and joke-filled chatter. The tone, too, is a little unbalanced at times, having filtered out a lot of the ultra-violence of the original comic, dry-cleaning the heroes so they shoot most of the bad guys with tranquilisers, yet still finding time for the villain to order the destruction of a helicopter loaded with kids. But chances are you won’t be over-worried by that: you’ll be too caught up watching the team in action. In fact, it almost makes you wish this were the pilot for a new TV show, in which the characters take on all manner of enemies with their inventive, chaotic and utterly entertaining camaraderie.

Lithe, bold, often funny and full of characters to cheer for, it never pretends to be anything more than a trigger-happy romp. If that’s what you’re after, The Losers offers plenty of explosive entertainment.