Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sabotage: DVD Review

Sabotage: DVD Review

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Mirelle Enos, Olivia Williams
Director: David Ayer

Arnie's back.

In a new film from the director of the criminally underrated and under-viewed End of Watch, he's grizzled and haunted as Breacher, the leader of a DEA team.

When Breacher and his gang of agents break into a Mexican cartel house and take down the bad guys, they unleash a viper's nest. As the group appears to siphon off $10 million from the cartel while escaping, the FBI becomes suspicious that the team took the cash for themselves and despite their protestations of innocence, Breacher is confined to a desk job, hounded to see if he'll crack and leave the force and the squad falls apart.

However, when the investigation's ultimately shelved due to a lack of evidence, the team is put back together - and all seems to be going well, until one by one, they're picked off. With mistrust at an all time high, and the belief the cartel is behind these gruesome deaths, it's a race against time for Breacher to get to the bottom of it....

Sabotage is a grubby, grimy blast of a seedy urban underbelly.

Schwarzenegger spends most of the film looking weary and almost defeated, and Ayer throws as much visual nastiness as he can at him; it begins with Breacher watching a torture video (later revealed to be his wife) before timejumping 8 months on into the raid on the cartel's luxurious home. And it's here that Ayer reveals his MO - a restrained, almost downbeat Schwarzenegger is held back from unleashing all kinds of hell. Ayer chooses to replicate some of the grit he garnered with End of Watch, revelling in the urban decay and corruption that's plagued so many American suburbs - and executing action sequences that are dialled down and precise.

The film gets off to a great pace and impresses in its grottiness but Ayer rushes the earlier acts to get to the meat and bones of the movie, and it's telling that when some characters are picked off, you're not quite sure who's got the chop until you realise you've not seen them on screen for a little bit.

When Schwarzenegger's paired up with Olivia Williams' investigating uptight homicide cop, there's a sense of liveliness that sparks between the pair with her dismissive banter and withering put-downs. It's a welcome touch of life in at times comatose action thriller.

Ayer brings some directorial flourishes and smoke and mirrors to the screen - some action shots are from the gun's POV and an inter-cutting of time delivers welcome tension as it messes with your perception as Breacher hunts for an off-the-grid colleague. But it barely makes up for the one-note characters who populate the rest of the movie.

While Worthing is almost unrecognisable with shaved head and Sons-Of-Anarchy style goatee, he has a presence that's undeniable in this - which is more than could be said for the OTT acting of both Mirelle Enos as an unhinged undercover cop who's become addicted to the drugs and True Blood's Joe Mangianello who simply shouts a lot of his lines in a display of macho pomposity. With little time for them to breathe, the cast do as much as they can as the faintly ridiculous explanation and reason for what's going is revealed, before a hail of bullets and standard action sequences are dropped on you.

All in all, Sabotage is a real mixed bag of a movie - it has moments that visually impress and some action sequences that are pared back - but it's not enough to shake the grubby middling feeling that you have when the movie ultimately ends.


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