However, the trailers and “critics” want you to believe this is another wall to wall action film with Schwarzenegger spouting off one-liners like a Pez dispenser. Far from it, this is actually Arnold trying something completely different, a mystery thriller involving an elite DEA task force that as he quotes is “the best undercover cops in the DEA.” Loosely based off Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (yeah, you read that correctly) It starts off with the team infiltrating a drug cartel’s safe house in Atlanta and stealing 10 million until when they go to the sewers to recover it. It’s mysteriously gone and someone is offing members of his team. Still, you don’t want to mess with Arnold.
Props to the casting director for recruiting one great supporting cast to join the seasoned 66- yr old. Schwarzengger plays John “Breacher” Wharton, the leader of the team alongside Sam Worthington (Avatar) playing his second hand badass, Monster. Worthington really brings some depth to his character. Calm and tactical on the job, but at home an absolute paranoid mess on account of what happened on their last bust. In cornrows and driving a Harley is Grinder played with fierce intensity by Joe Manganiello, Terrance Howard’s Sugar, Josh Holloway’s “Neck”, Max Martini’s (Captain Philipps) “Pyro” and the woman right for the part that could rival Eva Green for female sociopath of 2014, Mirelle Enos is Lizzy. In every scene she appears, Enos embodies Lizzy’s crazy and adrenaline heavy persona with such gritty grace. Also, get some solid work from Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau Jr. as Atlanta detectives who on are investigating the homicide in question.
Schwarzenegger always bringing the same cigar-chewing charisma to every role but even though his accent is included, you can actually see him giving some depth to his character. I applaud that by Ayer (who also penned the screenplay) who gives him some opening to learn the part of being “their father” of the team, keeping them in check and even let us see what Wharton is going throughout this film mentally and the reasons to his character’s actions.
Count on Ayer to bring tactics, positions of this elite task force where the audience gets the feeling of what kind of attitude you have to bring to get this job. You become a family when you work under Wharton, no matter how masochistic, crude, or foul mouthed you are. You are family to him and the action sequences are brought to reality with tons of blood with it. You have to understand though that dying is messy in real life. No stylization here, just a lot of handheld camera work and a dark, broody tone throughout for which I never felt I switched genres and was heavy handed.
You can tell through his time in the military, Ayer discovered how drug cartels react when someone steals their money. Let’s just say that they want to send a strong, violent message.
However, the script by Ayer and Skip Woods (Hitman, Swordfish) is unfortunately a mixed bag. At times, I did feel like they were reading off two different scripts. I could tell when Ayer’s words were being said and then the cheesy philosophy that Woods continues to unfortunately adopt. Trust me, a monologue from A Good Day to Die Hard was enough for me. I don’t even understand why Ayer just didn’t write it himself because it would have been a lot more concrete in storytelling and instead in the last 20 min, we are witnessed to two telegraphed twists that felt like Woods typing away. However, the ending. That was all Ayer.
Sabotage is a must for all Schwarzenegger fans to see with it’s authenticity in law enforcement tactics and judgment calls along with grit sprayed across the twist-filled story and engaging action sequences. It almost makes you feel like you’re watching a spaghetti western even if when predictable. Leave it up to the ending to show repeatedly, why you never mess with Arnold. Ever.