Losers, The (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality and language.
Length: 97 minutes
Grade: D+C-DF=D
Budget: $25 million
Box Office: $29 million (24 U.S., 5 Intl.)

Written by: Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Very Bad Things), James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Rundwon, Basic, Darkness Falls) based on the comic books by Andy Diggle.
Directed by: Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard and the classic [kidding] I’ll Always Know what You Did Last Summer)
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and Oscar Jaenadda
With: Jason Patric and Holt McCallany

A special forces unit is hung out to dry by their CIA handler and presumed dead, but they are determined to clear their names and get revenge on the power-hungry maniac bent on reigniting global conflict to the benefit of the United States military establishment or something like that.

Entertainment Value: D+
I haven’t read this comic series, but that’s okay since its creator claims not to have read the original DC series from which the concept and title is taken. Mostly I was disappointed with this, perhaps because I was actually so hopeful that it would be both good and only PG-13. It’s a case where the preview made it look super-cool and the fact that it was based on a Vertigo (DC subsidiary) series made it likely to have strong writing and interesting characters, but the end result is completely two-dimensional, even for a comic book adaptation. It’s frivolous action with fun music and a couple of twists, but mostly this is just a frustratingly inept knock-off of the A-Team concept without enough diversity among the team members to be nearly as intriguing as that series was. It’s the sort of movie you don’t really enjoy too much when you’re watching it, and then the more you think about it, the less it makes sense. Is it a comedy? Not quite. Is it a suspenseful thriller? Not quite. Is it a reliable action flick? Not quite. Is it as hip and cool as it wants to be? Not even remotely.

Superficial Content: C-
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity C, Violence D+, Language D+
PG-15 or more. This is one of those “let’s make an action movie based on a comic and let’s put as much vulgarity in it as we can without getting an R rating” movies. Language is pretty constant, violence is certainly constant (the opening scene involves twenty-five children being killed in a helicopter), and there is regular drinking and three sex or sexuality scenes. Not for kids, in addition to not being all that entertaining.

Significant Content: D
The way to do good in the world is through force. Bad guys are people who kill everyone for their own personal or political reasons. Good guys are people who kill either those they’re told to kill or else bad guys who tell them to kill good people. Having a family gives you split loyalties, which can keep you from becoming a ruthless killer. Revenge is legitimate and yet can drive you to do foolish things.

Artistic/Thought Value: F
Actually, I wish I could stop thinking about it, really.

Discussion Questions:
~Why do you think that Rocque did what he did? Why didn’t Clay try to rescue him?
~Does it seem plausible to you that a person like Max could do what he did in this film in the real world today?
~Sometimes the team uses bullets and sometimes tranquilizer darts. Why the difference?
~As with any bad movie, can you list the number of things that don’t make sense here? Begin with the inclusion of a Ducati motorcycle along with the four Snukes as a demand from a guy who drives up to buy them in a yacht or why the super-awesomest special ops team in the world can’t figure out how to get back into the US on their own.
Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The opening scene with the children.
~The hotel room fight.
~The ending scene with the soccer game.
Overall Grade: D
When a movie like this is only rated PG-13 and still flops at the box office, you know something has gone terribly awry. Roger Ebert said 3½ stars? Please. The biggest tragedy of this all for me is that this director (also of “Stomp the Yard?”) is apparently involved in the making of Frank Miller’s classic comic book limited series “Ronin” into a film. Gosh I hope he gets that better than this one. Frank Miller deserves much better than this.

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