David Ayerís Sabotage is a bloody and gritty tale about a DEA agent trying to figure out who is killing off the members of his squad. With its violence and stylized camera work, the movie fits right alongside Ayerís other works. Also, much like his previous film End of Watch, Sabotage starts strong before falling back on a tired cliche.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Breacher, a veteran DEA agent in charge of a fearless squad. After effectively hiding $10 million in drug money during an epic bust, their plan falls apart when they return to discover that someone has swiped the cash. As the incident is investigated, everyone is suspended from duty. After authorities fail to bring any charges, Breacher starts retraining the group, which has grown rusty and distrustful of each other during the long layoff. Soon, members of Breacherís crew start dying in gruesome fashion. He gets close to Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams), the investigator put in charge of the case. Caroline eventually learns about a dark secret from Breacherís past. Soon the remaining members of the crew realize that one of them is responsible for the murders, and that same person probably has the cash as well.
The script for Sabotage, written by Ayer and Skip Woods, has a few too many elements for its own good. The heist/con-artist storyline works quite well, and Ayer has loaded the film with dependable familiar faces. The presence of Josh Holloway, Joe Manganiello, Sam Worthington, and Terrence Howard as part of Breacherís team makes their history seem plausible. The movie doesnít have to waste time establishing how tight these characters are with each other. That way, when that trust is broken and they begin turning on each other, weíre as clueless as they are when it comes to identifying the culprit. The whodunit mystery is intriguing, and since the film holds nothing back when it comes to gory gunshot wounds and disembowelment, thereís a twisted malevolent edge to the entire movie.
However, Breacherís back story, involving a gruesome revenge undertaken by one of the cartels he pursued, turns out to lie at the heart of the film. Ayer uses this to mine the tired theme of old guys doing everything they can to right an old wrong, and this distracts from the central mystery. Itís a Clint Eastwood revenge plot grafted onto a super-bloody noirish crime thriller.
Small digital cameras allow Ayer to create some flamboyant shots, like watching a gunman from an angle that originates from the tip of his gunís barrel as he whips around looking for his target. Ayer and cinematographer Bruce McCleery have put together a purposefully ugly, gritty movie that on certain occasion looks about as bad as digital images did a decade ago. This doesnít seem like an accident, however. Itís a conscious choice that Ayer hopes gives the film some no-nonsense grit.
In the end, Sabotage is a schizophrenic movie that encourages audiences to cheer for a guy who has done some genuinely horrible things. Had Ayer and company kept a cool distance from this instead of serving up the perfunctory celebratory orgy of violence that ends the movie, they might have given Schwarzenegger some welcome darkness to his screen persona instead of simply underscoring everything weíve come to expect from him. His characterís subplot takes over the movie, and sabotages the intrigue and tension of the main plot.
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- Released: 2014
- Rating: R
- Review: David Ayerís Sabotage is a bloody and gritty tale about a DEA agent trying to figure out who is killing off the members of his squad. With its violence and stylized camera work, the movie fits right alongside Ayerís other works. Also, much like his previou… (more)