Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) leads this gang of Black Ops mercenaries unofficially working for the United States government, and on this fateful mission they find themselves in Bolivia, seeking to take out a local crime lord at his isolated jungle lair. However, when they get in sight of the building compound, they notice he has brought in a school bus full of children to act as insurance against anyone bombing him, yet the voice on the other end of Clay's radio link tells him he has no qualms about going ahead with just that course of action...
Following that there is the dodgiest moment in the whole film, which may act as an origin in ten minutes for our raggle-taggle band of outlaws, but also includes twenty-five or so Bolivian children being blown up in a helicopter by a missile meant for Clay's team, and all that after they had gone to so much trouble to save them. Do you think this movie would have pulled the same stunt if it meant them depicting the violent deaths of a group of American children? Neither do I, but if you hope this sets the rest of the story up for a plethora of gung ho bad taste, then you would be let down, as what you actually got was a generic action flick.
Just as the long shadow of eighties entertainment still loomed large over the landscape of twenty-first century movies, so it was that The Losers (not to be confused with the seventies bikers in 'Nam movie) sought to emulate the uncomplicated thrills of the action genre forged in that tumultuous decade - although, really, which decade is not tumultuous? What was on offer here was the bullets flying, the explosions exploding, the wisecracks, er, cracking, and manly men flexing their muscles if not their acting talents kind of vehicle your Sly or Arnie or Chuck would not have been ashamed to have put their name to way back when.
Except without the patina of nostalgia, which might have explained why it didn't quite set the box office alight, though then again neither did The A-Team remake, and that followed this movie's formula, based on a comic book, to a tee. Fair enough, there were a number - a small number - of twists and turns in the plot to make it its own animal, yet it was manufactured in a way that was dead set on as innocuous an explosions and gunfire flick as it could be. You might hesitate to describe it in terms of fast food, but The Losers was nevertheless a mass market product designed not to fill you up with a satisfying movie meal, but make you want more of the same a short time after consuming.
To its credit, director Sylvain White never pretended this was anything else, and staged the essential sequences with professionalism if little flair. The gang were similarly drawn from stock, pretty much interchangeable with each other with only the most token nods to distinguishing characteristics, though Chris Evans had a nice line in being not quite the ladies' man his character would hope to be. Zoë Saldana is the sole female member Aisha, love interest for Clay, setting our Losers on the trail of the mysterious Max who wanted them dead in the first place, although he turns out to be Jason Patric who not only wants to kick start massive global terrorism with a sci-fi matter-eating bomb, but behaves very oddly with it as if he were actually a refugee from a James Bond instalment. Throw in a grumpy Idris Elba for inter-team conflict and a setpiece or three, and mix to serve, in one eye and out the other. They were evidently hoping for a sequel, but there would be plenty more alternatives like this anyway. Music by John Ottman.