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Review: Sabotage

Mar. 27, 2014by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: Months after an elite team of DEA agents executes a successful raid on a drug cartel, they find their number dwindling under gruesome circumstances.

It can't be said SABOTAGE is a good movie, exactly, but I wonder if it strives to be one. Made up of healthy doses of profanity, booze, blood, macho posturing and violent nihilism, the David Ayer film positions itself as a modern day Sam Peckinpah tale, where vulgar men with guns live and die by them and there is no such thing as true camaraderie. SABOTAGE exists fully in this world and has no remorse for its brutality or misanthropy, which is why at the end of it - after about 100 people have been messily murdered and nary a shred of goodwill exists - I couldn't help but grudgingly admire that the film lives and dies by its own nasty code.

It's still an ungainly thing, totally pumped up on angry adrenaline; it's like the movie version of the loudest roided-up jerk lifting weights at the gym. The narrative doesn't make much sense and the roster of characters is stunningly unsympathetic, a group of people no one on Earth would want to spend a lick of time with. I'm definitely not a person who needs their protagonists to be "likable," but the rogues gallery presented here is particularly unappealing. That Ayer doesn't necessarily want us to like these people is part of SABOTAGE's crass charm.

It is, of course, another vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger 2.0 (or has he reached 3.0 at this stage?), and Arnie is Arnie, as ever. Here he plays Breacher, the leader of a rough DEA task force. During one mission within the walls of a cartel hideout, Breacher's crew decides to steal about $10 million worth of drug money. After they've blown away about two dozen men, they cleverly stash it in the sewer system so they can reclaim it later, after the bodies have been cleaned up - but when they go back for the loot, it's gone. The thieves have been stolen from.

Several months later, Breacher is wasting away at a desk job because no one trusts him in the field (his superiors still think he's stolen the money) while the rest of his team idly waits for something to happen. ("Idly" isn't necessarily the right word; they drink and verbally abuse each other. A lot.) Breacher gets the good news that his team is being reinstated, and then the group is once again kicking in doors and mowing down bad guys. But the good times stop rolling once a couple of the members are gruesomely killed, indicating someone is out to get them and picking them off one by one. Is it the cartel they stole from, or is it someone within their own group?

Ayer comes from the world of hardboiled men; formerly of the Navy, he's best known for penning gritty police procedurals like TRAINING DAY and END OF WATCH. Here he's put together his most testosterone-infused creation yet, as a large portion of screen time is devoted to either obnoxious male bonding, or people being riddled with bullets. Any person not fond of high body counts and obscene language should be prepared to suffer through immense amounts of both in SABOTAGE. Ayer is a capable director and he stages carnage and bloodshed with evident vigor, and he apparently relishes scenes of men behaving badly just as much. If I were handed a buck for every variation of the line "f*ck you dude!" I'd be a millionaire by the time the credits rolled.

Also present in much of Ayer's work is a pessimistic worldview, and SABOTAGE, though it's predominantly a blustery action movie, has a moroseness about it that edges it slightly away from the typical Schwarzenegger fare. For his part, Arnie handles himself well enough during his character's more quiet scenes; Breacher is a tortured man, haunted by the murder of his wife, so he does a lot of sitting around, drinking and contemplating. However, when he's asked to engage in some of the more colorful wordplay, he sounds like Arnold struggling through colorful wordplay. But you know what you're going to get with the big guy, and a devoted Arnold fan won't have much to complain about here.

The supporting cast is an odd thing, because there are interesting actors here but their characters are all but interchangeable. Sam Worthington, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Max Martini are the bros in Arnie's squad, and every single one of them has the exact same personality; they're eager to curse, drink, ogle a stripper, shoot something, and that's about it. Sometimes it's even easy to forget one or the other is in the movie.

But special note should be made about the women in this picture. (Actually there are only two lead females, the rest of the ladies are strippers.) It can not be said that Ayer doesn't play fair when it comes to gender politics, because both Olivia Williams and Mireille Enos have even nastier dispositions than their male counterparts. Williams is a detective on the case who develops an uneasy alliance with Schwarzenegger (and kudos to you if you pick up even the smallest hint of chemistry between these two), while Enos is the most damaged and antagonistic of the DEA task force. These women are profane, intense and, well, completely unladylike, with Enos in particular gnashing into her role as fervently as a rabid dog. I don't know if Ayer deserves praise for making all things equal on this front, but give him a bit of credit for ensuring his women are active participants in the mayhem and not just sideline characters.

The way it handles its women is indicative of SABOTAGE as a whole; it's unapologetic and offers no comfort. It ends on a down note and once the smoke has cleared I was unsure whether or not it was even "fun." It's not boring, I'll admit, and I still walk away from it thinking there's something commendable in its coarseness. Then again, that may say something about me more than it does the film.

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:39AM on 04/02/2014

7/10

Sabotage was a really gritty, entertaining film and holds nothing back. With a hard R rating it's got tits, gore, language, relentless brutal action and of course Arnold in one of his better acting performances in any of his movies old or new. If you were or still are a fan of Arnold and enjoy the genre, Sabotage would be worth your time to check out at the theater.
Sabotage was a really gritty, entertaining film and holds nothing back. With a hard R rating it's got tits, gore, language, relentless brutal action and of course Arnold in one of his better acting performances in any of his movies old or new. If you were or still are a fan of Arnold and enjoy the genre, Sabotage would be worth your time to check out at the theater.
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7:44PM on 03/29/2014
7/10
It was an average Schwarzenegger film. I would put it right up there with Eraser. That said it was still a Schwarzenegger film so I enjoyed the hell out of it.
7/10
It was an average Schwarzenegger film. I would put it right up there with Eraser. That said it was still a Schwarzenegger film so I enjoyed the hell out of it.
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5:29PM on 03/28/2014
Read the review, and was a little disappointed with the 5, but like someone said below, it's probably a 7 for an Arnie movie. Well, the reviewer was spot on here. Man, the longer away from the movie, the more I hate it. Two people in this movie actually didn't make me want to stab myself with my movie fork Arnie and Harold Perrineau. Everyone else was a caricature of a caricature, and the "twist" or whatever you want to call it, only made me wish they went with the first story because it just
Read the review, and was a little disappointed with the 5, but like someone said below, it's probably a 7 for an Arnie movie. Well, the reviewer was spot on here. Man, the longer away from the movie, the more I hate it. Two people in this movie actually didn't make me want to stab myself with my movie fork Arnie and Harold Perrineau. Everyone else was a caricature of a caricature, and the "twist" or whatever you want to call it, only made me wish they went with the first story because it just reaks of someone going "no, we've told that story before so let's do xyz instead" Well, no, just give Arnie his own Taken type role. This movie is like going to your favorite steak house and ordering their prime cut, only when it arrives it's baked chicken. Sure, chicken can be good, but we didn't order the chicken. Stop serving the chicken.
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2:18PM on 03/29/2014
If you ask them to get you your steak they will. You don't have to sit there like an unhappy child and force feed yourself the chicken you were served... Grow a set of balls and return it, and ask politely for what you ordered. If you get upset, they'll spit in your food and put pubes in your mashed potatoes... I mean alfalfa sprouts (Waiting)...ha!
If you ask them to get you your steak they will. You don't have to sit there like an unhappy child and force feed yourself the chicken you were served... Grow a set of balls and return it, and ask politely for what you ordered. If you get upset, they'll spit in your food and put pubes in your mashed potatoes... I mean alfalfa sprouts (Waiting)...ha!
12:20AM on 03/30/2014
It's called an analogy, and the movie sucked plain and simple.
It's called an analogy, and the movie sucked plain and simple.
+5
3:32PM on 03/28/2014
Has the writer never seen an Arnie movie before that didn't involve comedy? The comments about the women... So you want plastic women who are polite and not gruff to be in a movie about dishonest badass DEA agents? Get real man! You'd be tearing this movie apart if they went that route, as do most movies involving female cops. And as far as the foul language... hang out with a bunch of tactical/swat cops for a shift and see if they're polite, gracious and respectful...you will be sadly
Has the writer never seen an Arnie movie before that didn't involve comedy? The comments about the women... So you want plastic women who are polite and not gruff to be in a movie about dishonest badass DEA agents? Get real man! You'd be tearing this movie apart if they went that route, as do most movies involving female cops. And as far as the foul language... hang out with a bunch of tactical/swat cops for a shift and see if they're polite, gracious and respectful...you will be sadly disappointed :)
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10:54AM on 03/28/2014
Can't wait to see it, sounds like the guy reviewing the film here never grew up or enjoyed 80's-90's action films. I'll wait for Jimmy O or Arrow to review it before I take a review seriously. Especially this guy... "totally pumped up on angry adrenaline; it's like the movie version of the loudest roided-up jerk lifting weights at the gym" LOL, man someone got issues... Oh, just talked to a friend of mine who seen it, said it was the best Arnold film he has done since he started doing films
Can't wait to see it, sounds like the guy reviewing the film here never grew up or enjoyed 80's-90's action films. I'll wait for Jimmy O or Arrow to review it before I take a review seriously. Especially this guy... "totally pumped up on angry adrenaline; it's like the movie version of the loudest roided-up jerk lifting weights at the gym" LOL, man someone got issues... Oh, just talked to a friend of mine who seen it, said it was the best Arnold film he has done since he started doing films again. So another hit toward this review. Keep this guy walking a Wes Anderson/ Art House beat, because reviewing films like this are not apparently in his skill set.
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7:38AM on 03/28/2014
Sounds like an unpleasant movie, with the macho posturing and latent misogyny that it implies--however, lots of unpleasant movies are still good movies, and I will always love Schwarzenegger, so I'll see it and probably love it.
Sounds like an unpleasant movie, with the macho posturing and latent misogyny that it implies--however, lots of unpleasant movies are still good movies, and I will always love Schwarzenegger, so I'll see it and probably love it.
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11:57AM on 03/28/2014
and the first dick to be eliminated for using the word misogyny is you congrats!! Its a movie you heel, with a badass female character...wow
and the first dick to be eliminated for using the word misogyny is you congrats!! Its a movie you heel, with a badass female character...wow
2:38PM on 03/28/2014
Sorry, what? What am I being eliminated from? Anyway, I'm not gonna bother arguing anything you said, except to point out that maybe by focusing on one word out of my entire post, you maybe missed the point--that being that I think the movie looks good.
Sorry, what? What am I being eliminated from? Anyway, I'm not gonna bother arguing anything you said, except to point out that maybe by focusing on one word out of my entire post, you maybe missed the point--that being that I think the movie looks good.
+1
5:01AM on 03/28/2014
I love a woman who can talk like a man and back it up and he ladies in this could certainly back it up
I love a woman who can talk like a man and back it up and he ladies in this could certainly back it up
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12:38AM on 03/28/2014
Just saw it and I was right, a solid 7/10. Really enjoyed it, ultra violent and crude!
Just saw it and I was right, a solid 7/10. Really enjoyed it, ultra violent and crude!
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11:53PM on 03/27/2014
Going to see this bad boy tomorrow.
Going to see this bad boy tomorrow.
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11:29PM on 03/27/2014
is this supposed to be a bad review cuz once you mention peckinpah i was ready to watch
is this supposed to be a bad review cuz once you mention peckinpah i was ready to watch
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11:23PM on 03/27/2014

No theatrical release for Canada

Sabotage won't be released theatrically here. We'll have to wait for VOD or DVD/Blu-ray.
Sabotage won't be released theatrically here. We'll have to wait for VOD or DVD/Blu-ray.
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11:26PM on 03/27/2014
being released on april 11th, but thats still such utter bullshit!
being released on april 11th, but thats still such utter bullshit!
10:35PM on 03/27/2014
Sam Peckinpah made the best guy movies during his prime. David Ayer has made some definite strides into Peckinpah territory. I haven't seen Arnold play edgy in a long time. I'm still going to have to weigh my options, since I'm not a rich man, but based on your review it sounds like I'd enjoy the shit out of this movie.
Sam Peckinpah made the best guy movies during his prime. David Ayer has made some definite strides into Peckinpah territory. I haven't seen Arnold play edgy in a long time. I'm still going to have to weigh my options, since I'm not a rich man, but based on your review it sounds like I'd enjoy the shit out of this movie.
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+5
5:58PM on 03/27/2014

Finally!!

A macho film that makes no apologies for being so!!! Looking so much forward to this one and the Raid 2...

Get to da chopaa!!!
A macho film that makes no apologies for being so!!! Looking so much forward to this one and the Raid 2...

Get to da chopaa!!!
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5:48PM on 03/27/2014
Excited as fuck for the film. Everything about this film has looked awesome from the start and I for one can't wait to see Arnold and co. kicking ass again.
Excited as fuck for the film. Everything about this film has looked awesome from the start and I for one can't wait to see Arnold and co. kicking ass again.
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4:27PM on 03/27/2014
If an Arnold film is getting 5/10, it's usually a 7/10 on the ol' Arnold scale.
If an Arnold film is getting 5/10, it's usually a 7/10 on the ol' Arnold scale.
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3:53PM on 03/27/2014

I like it!

As an Arnold movie it was 9/10 as for the movie itself as it stands alone I would rate it 7.5/10 close to eight. Very much a throwback to a Sam Peckinpah. Pretty good movie. Seems like the reviewer just couldn't handle it.
As an Arnold movie it was 9/10 as for the movie itself as it stands alone I would rate it 7.5/10 close to eight. Very much a throwback to a Sam Peckinpah. Pretty good movie. Seems like the reviewer just couldn't handle it.
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4:13PM on 03/27/2014
cool to hear, I hope I end up agreeing with you. I'm an Arnie fan but was quite disappointed by The Last Stand. Thought it was pretty mediocre.
cool to hear, I hope I end up agreeing with you. I'm an Arnie fan but was quite disappointed by The Last Stand. Thought it was pretty mediocre.
4:17PM on 03/27/2014
Absolutely, The Last Stand was hugely mediocre. It was kinda out of Arnie's wheelhouse as I would say. This was right in Arnie's wheelhouse and a very bold movie for him to take at this age. I went in with very low expectations and came away rather relieved and thoroughly entertained. Very unapologetically violent picture. Throwback to mid 70's movies with a modern edge to it.
Absolutely, The Last Stand was hugely mediocre. It was kinda out of Arnie's wheelhouse as I would say. This was right in Arnie's wheelhouse and a very bold movie for him to take at this age. I went in with very low expectations and came away rather relieved and thoroughly entertained. Very unapologetically violent picture. Throwback to mid 70's movies with a modern edge to it.
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