"Sabotage" isn't sabotaged by Arnold!

I expect writer/director David Ayer (“Training Day”, “End of Watch”) movies to have a few things in them. One, it’s about some type of elite unit. Two, the unit or someone in it is corrupt. Three, someone on the team has a drug problem that gets in the way. What I don’t expect from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is a good performance. Put the two together in “Sabotage” and you actually have a decent film where Arnold doesn’t talk too much (he does have a few corny one liners) and his pocket of protection is a stellar cast.

John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the head of an elite DEA task force that goes in to dangerous situations and gets the job done. Eight months after his wife and child were tortured to death, he is back in the field. Wait. Arnold is dealing with lost love ones in the beginning of the film and not at the first act break? This actually sets the scene for a darker character portrayal for Arnold that dare I say works. (I mean, it works in the sense that for Arnold it's a step up.)

The movie starts with his team entering a drug cartel’s safe-house for a major drug bust. The team gives themselves enough time to syphon off ten million dollars before coming out of the home. When the unit returns to get the money hours later, they find it missing. 

From there on the film delves into trying to find out who took the money. The team doesn’t trust each other after months of scrutinization and isolation during an investigation into where the money went. (Which is the first plot hole because Arnold makes a point of blowing up the pile of cash before they leave.) Yet once the investigation is dropped, suddenly bodies in the unit start dropping as well. 

The team of corrupt agents are all accomplished actors who give convincing performances. Notably, Lizzy (Mireille Enos) holds it down as the sole female of the team who’s married to fellow agent Monster (Sam Worthington). Lizzy has earned her stripes and doesn’t “play” like one of the boys, but is one of the boys...with a feminine edge. The same can be said for Olivia Williams’ Detective Caroline, another woman hardened amongst men. These actors all rally around their brooding and barely talking quarterback named Arnold.

The major issue is that the film ends, and then keeps going with a closure scene that wasn’t necessary. Even when the film does end in a “Usual Suspects”- detective standing in the middle of an empty street type of way- its’ twist feels rushed and confuses things. You have to watch it to understand what I mean and I don’t want to spoil it. (You can always comment below if you want to delve further.) 

Ayer is becoming a master of his own style of dark crime genre. With a solid catalogue of films behind him you know what you’re going to get but it’s never cookie cut out of his prior films. Although at this point, I think “Training Day” will always overshadow the rest of his work, he does write films that are entertaining in theaters and at home. 

Rating: B-

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.