Oh my, it's a mirage, Judge David Johnson is tellin' ya'll it's a sabotage.
Leave no loose ends.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Escape Plan) saddles up for this hard R actioner about DEA agents and their penchant for getting wacked.
Facts of the Case
Schwarzenegger is "Breacher," the grizzled head of an elite undercover DEA unit that makes its bones infiltrating the nastiest of the drug cartels. To do this kind of work you have to be some kind of a-hole and that's Breacher's crew: a collection of prime dinks. One particularly gruesome job finds them raiding a cartel chief's mansion and amidst the bloodshed and gunfire they find time to stow away $10 million in drug cash. But when their plan goes away and the money goes missing and team members start dying horribly, distrust breaks out and more dying happens.
Sabotage is a chore. While unafraid to embrace all things gritty, director David Ayer's crime jaunt is a joyless contrived caper that relies on a slow-burn build-up and ultimately fizzles like a leaky balloon at a retirement home birthday party. Speaking of which: Schwarzenegger. All caveats of how iconic the guy is and so on and so forth inferred, the man just doesn't quite fit in these hard-ass movies anymore. Unless he's doing something more self-deprecating like The Expendables sequel, he just doesn't have the juice to carry a production. And especially something like this role, which demands an emotional depth he can't quite reach.
Of course using the words "emotional depth" in a review for Sabotage is unfair to begin with because this is such a knuckle-dragging experience from top to bottom. I, for one, enjoy my knuckle-dragging cinematic experiences, but this one was too thick even for me. It all starts with the characters, the most unlikable collection of douchebags this side of Bratz. Our first introduction to them is designed, I suppose, to set them up as antiheroes as they take out the cartel, but the "hero" part never materializes. For the whole stretch, these yo-yos do very little other than drop F-bombs in each other's general direction and get themselves killed. And besides: if the squad-mates despise each other, why should we care about their misfortunes? Case in point: Breacher discovers the body of one of his friends and partners, nailed to the ceiling, intestines spilling out and he doesn't bat an eye. You're all terrible people and who really cares who's wiping you out?
The payoff to which, however, is…odd. And sort of a cop-out. In a way, Sabotage is structured like a horror/slasher movie, with the identity of the party involved held to the end after team members are systematically killed in increasingly gory ways. Judged against that rubric, the film is sort of okay. But that's not how we're supposed to approach it: this is a bruising, character-driven suspense/action film and it fails to measure up. Even Sam Worthington (Avatar) cranking up the quasi-charisma meter to 100 can't salvage this slog. Skip it.
Solid Blu-ray, though, sporting an impressive A/V treatment: the transfer is slick, packing a sharp, punchy 1.85:1/1080p slice of HD video quality, and a loud aggressive DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Extras include two alternate endings which are wildly different (and way worse) than the final cut, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette.
Sinew, swearing, smoking, and not much else. Sabotage lives up to its own name, hamstringing its fortunes by serving up lame characters and a thin plot from which it never recovers.
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Scales of Justice
• Alternate Endings
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