Skip to main content

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See LAST FLAG FLYING In AUSTIN

Sabotage Review: 'Gritty' Ain't The Word

Sabotage Review 
By: MattInRC

Read on to see if Arnold redeems himself in David Ayer's gritty and violent Sabotage.


Writer/Director David Ayer is a well-known asset among those bringing gritty drama/action flicks to the big screen. Although he had scripted 2001's The Fast & The Furious, Ayer gained his greatest popularity that same year for the Oscar-winning Training Day. His up-and-coming status is in stark contrast to that of Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's seen his star diminish since returning to acting in 2010. For both, the release of Sabotage is important in defining where each stands in their respective careers. For Ayer, it's clearly filled with high-octane; for Arnold, it's something quite different.


DEA Agent John 'Breacher' Warton (Schwarzenegger) and his elite strike team form a dangerous response to the drug war. Murray (Sam Worthington), Phillips (Joe Manganiello), Jordan (Josh Holloway) and Edmonds (Terrance Howard) treat each other like quarreling brothers, with Breacher acting as their surrogate parent. But away from the missions, the team is unpredictable and even dangerous: the strung-out Lizzy (Mireille Enos) and the drunk Roberts (Max Martini) are just as likely to brawl with one another as save each other's bacon. The team's allegiance come to a head when the DEA launches an investigation into the whereabouts of $10 million lost during a raid on a cartel. But we soon learn that the team's history with the organization is far darker than anyone expects. As murder envelopes the team, an FBI agent (Olivia Williams) begins to unravel the details, leading her and Breacher down a rabbit hole that only one will emerge from alive.


Our feelings about Sabotage span the range of emotions, leaving us stuck somewhere between mild disappointment and a healthy appreciation for the effort made. A film lives and dies by the details, and so few of the film's characters are worthy of our love or even attention. The only one we even tacitly endorse turns out to be a well-played pawn, a victim of best intentions. Perhaps that was Ayer's point, but his deep betrayal of the characters is equaled only by the effort they make to deflect the blows.  A film cannot exist on grit alone, but Sabotage tries its best, even if its main character can longer carry a movie.


Much like his character, Arnold seems tired and even a bit empty, a man with a deep and glorious past but lacking much of a future. As Breacher, he looks down at his teammates' wild antics like that of a grandfather who doesn't understand this new generation. And just like Breacher, Arnold is no longer plays the wild hero we came to love, but a morally ambiguous figure who will readily stand in the shadows instead of a giant gun at his side. Whether he carries that deeper dramatic side off is up to the audience to decide, but his cast represents the most talented of his career, in many ways eclipsing him in every scene. Enos plays the most unstable of the lot, but everyone from Manganiello to Worthington do their best to offset the rather thin script. Even SJF favorites Howard and Martini get their scenes, with the latter in a particularly funny one that's part of the explicit trailer. Their on-the-edge lives teeter dangerously into murderous rage, and Arnold seems like the last one who can contain them.


Ayer manages to craft a decent side plot with Williams and Schwarzenegger, leaving the former Dollhouse star holding the bag after a particularly good ending. We didn't like the overly-simplistic revenge epilogue, which felt like someone else shot it other than Cinematographer Bruce McCleery. It's so straight-up in its approach that it reminds us of the 80's Arnold rather than the deeper one Ayer desperately tries to invent. Ayer is clearly an excellent director, crafting environments that seem so far removed from the lives of ordinary people. His strength lies in an ability to get the most out of his actors, even if his own script lacks the emotional heft. Had anyone else produced Sabotage, the results would have been disastrous; instead, he merely keeps the ship from veering too far off course by mitigating several puzzling plot holes. The result is a film we could have loved but only merely like.

Sabotage endorses the gritty, distrusting world of law enforcement that's sadly become so popular in American films. It's foul-mouthed, ugly, and absolutely unapologetic, but do such qualities make for good cinema? Depending on how you look at it, Sabotage either ups the ante or descends to new lows, clearly establishing itself as the ultra-violent end of Ayer's spectrum. Schwarzenegger is outperformed at every turn by the best cast we've seen this year so far, but even they can't keep the thin story from tearing apart under its own weight. Whether moviegoers will embrace this new Arnold is anyone's guess, but judging by his recent films the potential for a huge box office draw seems dubious at best.

Sabotage is rated R for everything under the sun and has a runtime of 109 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Please leave a comment.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See SUBURBICON In Cleveland

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See SUBURBICON on October 23th at 7:00 PM in Cleveland.

Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns…the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.

Paramount Pictures release SUBURBICON starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac.
Directed by George Clooney.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

In theaters Friday, October 27th

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuburbiconMovie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuburbiconMovie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/SuburbiconM...

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

SEATING IS LIMITED, SO ARRIVE EARLY.

PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A SEAT AT THE SCREENING.

This screening will b…

THOR: RAGNAROK Contest! For Houston

© 2017 Marvel Studios
Enter for your chance to win passes for 2 to a special IMAX 3D Advance Screening of THOR: RAGNAROK on October 30th at 7:30PM in Houston

In Marvel Studios’ “THOR: RAGNAROK,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk! “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.



In theatres November 3!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

Website: Marvel.com/Thor
Facebook: /Thor
Twitter: @ThorOfficial
Hashtag: #ThorRagnarok

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Limit 2 admit-one passes per person. This film is rated PG-13. Must be 13 years of age or older to win passes. Employees of all promotional partners and t…

THOR: RAGNAROK Contest! For San Antonio

© 2017 Marvel Studios Enter for your chance to win passes for 2 to a special 3D Advance Screening of THOR: RAGNAROK on October 30th at 7:30PM in San Antonio

In Marvel Studios’ “THOR: RAGNAROK,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk! “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.



In theatres November 3!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

Website: Marvel.com/Thor
Facebook: /Thor
Twitter: @ThorOfficial
Hashtag: #ThorRagnarok

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Limit 2 admit-one passes per person. This film is rated PG-13. Must be 13 years of age or older to win passes. Employees of all promotional partners and the…