The F*ckin Black Sheep: Sabotage (2014)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Sabotage (2014)
Directed by David Ayer

“SABOTAGE boasts one of Arnold’s best performances in years.”

This week, writer/director David Ayer returns with one of the most anticipated movies of the year in SUICIDE SQUAD. You know, that superhero DIRTY DOZEN mashup with a gangsta-tattooed Joker. So far, Ayer has had a solid run of quality with FURY, END OF WATCH, STREET KINGS, and writing TRAINING DAY. However, Ayers does have a “bomb” in there with SABOTAGE, which tanked at the box office (earning only about $5 million on a $35 million budget), and was critically ripped apart. But I don’t really get why. I dig SABOTAGE for its brutality, its mean, uncompromisingly view of the world of dirty cops, and for Arnold Schwarzenegger giving one of his best performances of his post-superstar career.

Obviously, not all folks love them some darkly gritty, brooding cop thrillers, but I’m a sucker for ‘em, and Ayer knows how to deliver (outside of FURY, it’s his wheelhouse). SABOTAGE revolves around a psychotic DEA task force who aren’t exactly playing things straight. During a raid on a drug cartel, the group, led by Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger), decides to take a few million for their troubles. Problems quickly come as members of the team (which includes a kick ass cast with Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and Josh Holloway among others) start ending up dead; the group doesn’t know who's behind the killings, but have plenty of suspects. At the same time, Breacher and company are being investigated by Internal Affairs and a homicide detective (Olivia Williams) and her partner (the always great Harold Perrineau).

While the entire cast brings quality performances (with Worthington and Manganiello really standing out), SABOTAGE boasts one of Arnold’s best performances in years. He’s not playing a villain or a hero, but an actual character who seems real for once. He's both likable and despicable; the man is truly acting. And while I read that he hated his hair, I really dig it, just as I did in ESCAPE PLAN. Like Clint Eastwood managed to do, I wish Arnold would embrace his age a bit more. Well…not get fat or show off the man boobs, but if his hair is gray, so be it. He can be a ripped old man, but one not trying to look young (with that horrendous dyed hair he sports). Anyway, I wish this had been Arnold’s first come back film, because perhaps it would have stood a better chance and people might have looked at him differently (instead, now he’s taking over for Trump on The Apprentice. God save us).

While most of Ayer's other flicks have been straight forward thrillers, SABOTAGE plays like a mystery as we don’t know who’s knocking off Breacher’s men until the end. The movie has plenty of flaws, but just as was the case on SUICIDE SQUAD, Ayer had to deal with a lot of studio interference (his original cut with about three hours long). It could be that just like Jose Padilha and his ROBOCOP experiment, some directors aren’t meant for the studio system. I guess only time with judge after we all witness SUICIDE SQUAD. Or, maybe we'll have to wait until Ayer turns into an old man and gives us that tell-all book that reveals every dirty Hollywood secret. Regardless, I’d love to see his cut of SABOTAGE, but if that opportunity never arrives, I still enjoy the theatrical cut plenty.





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