The Losers is kind of old school in the sense that you have a team of American ass-kickers who can kill dozens of bad guys while injured, yet the bad guys never seem to be able to aim for their heads. But who cares? This is mindless fun. This is charismatic characters fighting a ruthless villain at sunny locations. This is also a good excuse to see Zoe Saldana firing a bazooka, apparently as a means to distract the bad guys.
The action begins in Bolivia where an elite U.S special forces unit (is there any other kind?) has the mission to destroy the compound of a drug dealer. Unfortunately the dealer is using children as drug mules, so the titular Losers chose to break protocol and ride in to save the innocent little tykes. They succeed and let them use their helicopter to fly out of the jungle, only to see the helicopter get blown out of the sky. It doesn’t take them long to realize that they have been double-crossed by Max, their handler, who has always been just a creepy voice over the phone but now they have a strong personal interest in meeting him face to face. In a dramatic moment the Losers throw in their dog tags in the smouldering wreck of the helicopter. Clear subtext: they are no longer soldiers and it will be hell to pay.
Their road to revenge is not easy at first. They are stuck in Bolivia, with no passports, vehicles, contacts, and are forced to take menial jobs just to afford their cheap hotel rooms. Then luck comes in the form of mysterious woman called Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who knows all about them and they know very little about her. She has a straightforward proposition: she can get them back into the States as long as they help her get to Max. Sounds like a win-win situation, but there is more than meets the eye with this beautiful stranger who can kick ass as well as any member of the team.
The members of this unit are an interesting bunch. There is Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) the gruff team leader who just wants to complete the mission and get his team safe to their families. Roque (Idris Elba) is the second in command who can kill you at ten paces with the throw of a knife. Jensen (Chris Evans) is their tech support and occasional comedy relief. Pooch is the vehicles expert who is at ease both driving a school bus and flying a helicopter. Last but not least is Cougar (Oscar Jaenada) a sniper who rarely speaks and wears one of those cool hats like the one Woody Harrelson wore in Zombieland. When these guys play poker, they put their many guns and huge knives on the table. Hopefully, they don’t drink too much beer with that much artillery lying around.
The villain, Max (Jason Patrick) comes off as a cousin of a Bond villain. He wears expensive suits, has a badly scarred hand, travels to exotic places all over the planet, and has a devious plan that could kill millions. His sarcasm and political incorrectness may seem annoying or funny depending on your sense of humour. When he is about to exchange a billion dollar for some weapons of mass destruction built by Indian scientists, he asks them if they are ready to play Slumdog Billionaire, with a mock accent. They don’t laugh.
The film’s director, Sylvain White, doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of action movies, but he sure knows how to make that wheel turn. There is the obligatory scene of the heroes walking in slow motion looking bad-ass while wearing sunglasses, the scene where they escape a massive explosion and a giant wall of fire only grazes the back of their vehicle, and a scene where they are about to be executed but are saved at the last minute. Clichés aside, the action sequences are very well edited, the characters are funny, you root for the heroes and this is definitely one of those movies from which they should make a video game. Cougar would be a lot of fun to control, just for that hat.
On a more patriotic note, there is a scene when Max is explaining to his main henchman Wade (Holt McCallany) how his evil plan will ultimately benefit the United-States. Wade then points out that he was actually born in Quebec, where I live. Out of frustration, Max includes all of North America in the conversation to please Wade. I just wonder how many people in the United-States will know where Quebec is.