Sunday, April 06, 2014


Year: 2014
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Harold Perrineau

Plot: A DEA strike team gets killed violently one by one after they steal $10 million from a drug cartel bust.

Review: David Ayer's name is synonymous with gritty cop stories like Training Day and End Of Watch. The DEA team in Sabotage is supposed to be like family, but unlike Jake Gylenhaal and Michael Pena in End Of Watch, this team doesn't really act like a family.

Thing is, Ayer somehow goes out of his way to make his ragtag bunch of door busters as unlikable as possible. Now, I get the part where they have to look like criminals, sporting tattoos, messy hairstyles and snorting drugs a lot, because they have to go undercover and all. But even when off duty, they act like horrible people, disrespecting authority and cussing a lot. Is Ayer saying that undercover law enforcement are allowed to be like that because they've been undercover so long, they can't turn it off? Maybe. But it doesn't quite help in making these guys worth rooting for, and therein lies the problem.

Anyway, a little bit on the story: Schwarzenegger plays Breacher, a leader of a rough and tough DEA strike team, and together they steal some money during a drug bust, only to find it missing when they come back for it later. They get investigated, suspended then later reinstated due to lack of evidence. Then the team members wind up dead one by one. Homicide detective Caroline Brentwood is on the case, but the team won't play ball, which doesn't make it better when she eventually finds out about them being investigated earlier.

Ayer is basically good at painting realistic profiles on cops, whether they're good or bad. In this case it's the latter. But like I said, despite the realistic presentation, the audience needs to care about these guys, and I for one do not. Only Arnold's character is somewhat redeemable, but the reason for that is something I can't reveal in order not to spoil things.

But there are good things to look forward to, like the unabashed violence, which is quite welcome. Arnold of course makes a great leader, not just for the team, but for the film too as his screen presence makes a big difference. Olivia Williams is also great as Brentwood, playing a character I haven't seen her do before. Special mention goes to Mireille Enos as the sole female member of the DEA team, who is as tough and mean as her male colleagues, and she is such a sleaze here you won't believe she's the same person who played Brad Pitt's wife in Wolrd War Z, or the detective in The Killing. The rest of the guys are not too memorable as they're too similar with one another.

Aside from the unlikable characters, there's also pacing problems here and there, and the excessive amount of profanity which drags the film down. The car chase at the climax is great, but not enough to make the whole film great.

As it is, Sabotage is passable entertainment. As an Arnold vehicle, and as a David Ayer film, it just isn't as good as what has come before. (3/5)

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