Making the Grades
I have to wonder if someone at the ratings board slept through the screening of The Losers in order for this film to walk away with a PG-13 rating instead of being slapped with an R. The movie is peppered with profanities (and other scatological slang), riddled with gunfire (resulting in seemingly hundreds of dead secondary characters) and includes a racy sexual encounter between one of the Losers and a mysterious woman.
In the story, Colonel Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is the commander of a group of tough special operatives, known as The Losers. They have been sent into the Bolivian jungle to locate a drug dealer (Peter Francis James) and lock a target on him for an air missile strike. Just after the coordinates are sent, Clay and his men see a busload of children arriving in the compound. Immediately the soldiers request a mission abort but someone named Max (Jason Patric) jams the communication line. With their request denied, the five men dash down the mountain and rescue the kids just before the blast hits.
Their heroic attempts, however, are all for naught when a helicopter (meant for Clay’s group) is blown up while transporting the children to safety. Determined now to find the man who interfered with their mission, Clay and his men Pooch (Columbus Short), Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), Roque (Idris Elba) and Jensen (Chris Evans) start planning their revenge. In the meantime, they are stuck in Bolivia, assumed to be dead by the U.S. Military and accused of causing the children’s deaths.
Their luck seems to change for the better when a woman named Aisha (Zoe Saldana) approaches the men. She offers to arrange for their return to the States as well as finance an operation to find and kill Max. Unsure of her motives, some of the men have apprehensions about accepting her money. Clay, on the other hand, is willing to go along, especially after sharing a steamy night of intimacy with her.
Based on a comic book, this theatrical adaptation comes with lots of chemistry between the characters that provide the lighter moments in this action-packed war story. Unfortunately the comic-style violence doesn’t translate well to the screen. The tongue-in-cheek humor becomes tasteless when a woman is murdered for simply tripping in the sand and another man is thrown from a 57-story building. In addition to the army of characters that are killed by bullets or explosions, one man is sucked into a jet engine and another has his eye poked out during a scuffle. The production also shows bloody injuries and a man who is able to scale a large building even after being shot in both legs. Along with the rapid-fire profanities, this script contains racial slurs and depictions of Max mocking the accent and morals of a foreign ethnic group.
With the storyline left wide open for a sequel, this is likely not the last we’ll see of Clay and his cohorts. Yet before these comic book heroes can become role models for family viewers, there will need to be a major revamping of these Losers.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Losers.
The antagonist in this film is played in a dark, comedic fashion. In one scene, he shoots a woman in the head for not holding his umbrella correctly. In another, he has a man pushed off a building for not following his instructions. He continues to use excessive violence throughout the story. All of these actions are intended to create humor. Do you feel they are, or do they take away from other funny, non-violent moments in the film? Would the movie be more or less entertaining without these portrayals?
This same antagonist also wears a US flag on his lapel. What statement is being made about US citizens by portraying this character in this fashion? When he mocks members of another nationality by mimicking their accent, do you think audiences will understand this behavior is incorrect because he is the "bad guy?" or does he only act to reinforce existing cultural stereotypes?