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Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.
First and foremost, this movie isn’t available to the public until the 28th of this month. I was granted a special viewing because, as I understand it, Sabotage is being played for free on all military installations before its scheduled public release. And I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised by it. I’ve been massively out of the loop lately due to being busy with this month-long military course I’ve been taking since February, so I went into Sabotage knowing very little about it except for what my husband told me about Arnold Schwarzenegger being in it. Normally not my cup of tea, to be honest, but the tickets were free, and it made for the perfect excuse to get out of the house for a little while.
This film very much from the get-go lays most of its guts bare for the audience in the first few minutes – it’s gritty, steely, foul and gory. The characters are all sailor-mouthed shit heads, and the story line leaves no room for sparing grisly details. Deaths are almost nonstop throughout the picture, and my particular favorite is the least expected, with local Investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) falling and slipping into a massive pool of entrails-blood on the floor. Nummy. It pulls no punches with the gore. Just know that. But considering the subject matter – a Special Operations Drug Enforcement Administrations team getting offed after stealing money from a nasty drug cartel – you can’t really begrudge the filmmakers that, honestly.
However, speaking of Olivia Williams, I would like to make it known that I believe her character, Investigator Caroline Brentwood, carried the life of the film for me. Before she came into the picture, my interested had already long been piqued, but watching her suffer through the crass, sexually charged comments (and, occasionally, diktats) of the so-called “elite” DEA task force without even so much as flinching grabbed the limelight from the other characters and shed a little more on herself. Also, her humor ranked right up there with the rough-n-tough DEA task force’s, as well as toned down a notch to match that of her partner (Harold Perrineau).
She was not the only outstanding character of the movie, though. Sam Worthington as Monster really did not gel with my idea of a character good for him to play – it is certainly a far cry from Man on a Ledge‘s Nick Cassidy, Clash of the Titans‘ Perseus and Avatar’s Jake Sully – but I will admit it didn’t take long for him to make me believe in it. At first, I didn’t even recognize him for the buzz cut, tear drop tattoo and braided goatee. He definitely pulled it off, though. The inner conflicts Monster wrestles with throughout the film also make him a quick and easy one to love, even though he typifies the hard-and-fast, fuck-the-rest attitude of the rest of the DEA task force as well.
Then there’s Lizzy, Monster’s wife, played by a genuinely cracked-out-looking Mireille Enos, who I have only ever seen in World War Z, which I did not enjoy, and Gangster Squad, which I loved. Both roles were rather marginal, so I kinda didn’t know what to expect from her. In Sabotage, Lizzy is arguably the worst of the task force for her careless recklessness. But she also holds her own damn well – both in character and in acting prowess. I didn’t enjoy how the film wound up pitting her against Caroline Brentwood in the end, but I guess it wasn’t too outlandish, and the script made me believe it, so I don’t have too may complaints, there. In a film with only two women in it, I can’t realistically have expected anything else from modern filmmakers.
The other members of the task force – Sugar (Terrence Howard), Grinder (Joe Manganiello), Neck (Josh Holloway) and Pyro (Max Martini) – all while delivering palatable performances in varying degrees seemed to take a bit of a back seat to the head of the team, John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger), for the majority of the film. This is compensated for by giving the team a familial feel of familiarity throughout the beginning segments of the film where their headquarters remains while they undergo a 6-month-long investigation for the money stolen during their last job. Their back-and-forth banter, while boorish and often just plain dirty, gave the picture many a laugh that I did not anticipate.
In fact, the element of humor is present and ever-traded off with the sombre weight of bloody subject matter. I truly appreciated it, and a lot of it was just plain old funny, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. This movie is pretty funny!
My one gripe is… holy crap, take a look at the team. About 6-7 white guys, 1 white girl, 1 black guy. [SPOILER » Just guess who the villains are! « END] (Highlight to view.) (But be careful.) (It’s a huge spoiler.)
But… it’s also a surprisingly good action flick. I believed in every minute of it, and I’d be happy to pay money to see it again someday.