A crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire ... The A-Team.
That's how the 1980s TV series "The A-Team" begins, but with just a few word substitutions à la "Mad Libs," the narration could apply to the new film "The Losers." About all that's missing is a Mohawk. (Will you accept a cowboy hat as a consolation prize?)
Based on Andy Diggle's comic book that few outside of the world of comic books are even aware of, "The Losers" refers to a ragtag team of misfits who comprise a CIA black-ops squad. While on a mission in the jungle, their own employer, Max (Jason Patric, "My Sister's Keeper"), double-crosses them, frames them and leaves them for dead.
They're not, of course. They're alive, kicking and itching for revenge, with Max squarely in their sights. Such an act will involve more handheld missile launchers in the history of cinema, but only because Thomas Edison just didn't have the budget.
Acting as The Losers' well-dressed ringleader is Franklin (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, "Watchmen"), followed by Roque (Idris Elba, "Obsessed"). The rest of the crew falls into neat compartments; there's the techie (Chris Evans, "Push"), the sniper (Óscar Jaenada, "Che"), the pilot (Columbus Short, "Death at a Funeral") and the hot one (Zoe Saldana, "Avatar"). Don't let her looks fool you: She's a stone-cold killer. And if you can believe Saldana as a lithe action hero, then certainly you can buy into Evans as a computer hacker.
He's actually the film's MVP " the comic relief in a movie that already doesn't take itself all that seriously. While Evans gets the best lines, the others have fun cracking wise as they crack skulls, making for a breezy, blowsy blockbuster that succeeds just enough to land on this side of likable.
Like its source material, it's overwritten and underwritten at the same time, engaging in exposition, yet not advancing its characters forward. Although the battle sequences tend to have a numbing effect after a while, at least director Sylvain White ("Stomp the Yard") approaches them in a visual style far lucid than, say, the Michael Bay style of rat-a-tat-tat eye-rape.
Just as Diggle's comic didn't leave me feeling jazzed enough to seek out the next volume, nor am I clamoring for a sequel. But I'd watch it. "Rod Lott