ReviewWriter: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Training Day”, “S.W.A.T.”, “Dark Blue”, “Street Kings”, “End Of Watch”, “Armored”, “Narc” and “Raw Deal”
During the heydays throughout the '80s and the '90s, as well as the recent comebacks of late (e.g. 2013's "The Last Stand"), Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger is no stranger to playing a law enforcement officer. But in writer-director David Ayer's "Sabotage", this is the first time we get to watch a different side of Schwarzenegger's usual action-movie offering where everything is extremely bloody and gritty.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, who leads a team of undercover DEA task force. During a major drug bust where the team steals US$10 million from the cartel's money and stashes it somewhere in the sewer, they thought they have planned well until they return to discover that the drug money has gone missing. Breacher and his team are subsequently suspended from duty after being investigated for the stolen drug money. However, with no solid evidence against them whatsoever, their superior Floyd Demel (Martin Donovan) reinstates them back into duty. Soon, one by one the members of Breacher's team ends up dead in gruesome fashion. Now working closely with homicide detective-in-charge Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams), Breacher is determined to find out the truth behind the murders as well as the stolen drug money.
At first glance, the concept of mixing a down-and-dirty cop drama for which David Ayer had honed the genre from "Training Day" to "End Of Watch" with Agatha Christie's whodunit of "And Then There Were None", seems like an ambitious idea. However, David Ayer's and Skip Woods' screenplay undermines their own concept and fails to make the whodunit (especially the one involving the mysterious death for each of Breacher's team members) particularly interesting. Instead, the movie lumbers along with too many exposition-heavy scenes all over the place. Even when the movie finally reveals the subsequent truth, the story lacks solid conviction. And if that's not bad enough, there's an extended epilogue involving one character that feels somewhat misplaced.
Still, "Sabotage" is not entirely a cinematic failure. Likewise, Ayer knows well how to stage brutal action sequences that are definitely not for the squeamish. Although the level of blood and gore that is showcased throughout the movie does feel like you are watching a slasher movie (e.g. "Saw"), the mix of graphic violence and hardcore grittiness is riveting enough to capture your attention. The only gripe about the action sequences here are Ayer's penchant for annoyingly tight close-ups and jittery camerawork that sometimes feel difficult to watch.
As the cigar-chomping John "Breacher" Wharton, it's good to see Schwarzenegger ditch his usual larger-than-life action persona in favor for a more serious and edgy performance. The result is quite admirable, even though the way he is forced to deliver more stilted dialogues than usual does make his performance feel stagnant. Olivia Williams is equally engaging as the relentless homicide detective who subsequently finds herself in a web of deceit and ugly truth. The rest of the supporting actors, including the near-unrecognizable Sam Worthington who sports a shaved head and braided goatee and the hulking Joe Manganiello with a cornrow hairstyle, make best use of their screen time with enough macho swagger and tough attitude. But of all the cast here, it was Mireille Enos who excels the most with her strikingly fearless performance as Lizzy. Too bad Terrence Howard's talents are enormously wasted with his thankless performance as Breacher's soft-spoken team member, Sugar.
Although "Sabotage" is pretty much a half-baked effort, the movie remains a passable experience for fans of David Ayer's movies, and of course, for fans who are game to watch the darker side of Schwarzenegger's role for a change.Cinema Online, 02 April 2014