Having made two great crime dramas with TRAINING DAY and END OF WATCH, David Ayers ends his streak with a bit of a clunker in SABOTAGE. It’s an excessively violent revenge flick that wallows in shades of grey with not a lot of redeeming values other than some interesting twists and turns and a decent cast.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Breacher the leader of an elite DEA squad that can pretty much do as they see fit. Made up of the most rumble and tumble people this side of SIN CITY, it’s hard to know if they’re the good guys or not.
The film opens with a takedown of a drug lord, but degenerates into a heist of millions of the seized money to sweeten the deal for the squad. But the DEA know that there’s missing funds from the raid and dismantle Breacher’s squad while they try to figure out if they had anything to do with it.
But this troupe sticks together and once they are cleared they can get back to business as usual. Unfortunately, someone has designs on them and starts taking them out one by one. Could it be someone on the inside?
By the time the true villain is revealed what’s left of the elite team are either at each other’s throats or in body bags.
Ayers does a good job with the mechanics of the film and it’s certainly thrilling by any book definition. The big problem is that the film feels a little sloppy in its storytelling. I was frequently confused, especially at the beginning and character motivations didn’t quite gel as they should.
Also with so many likeable actors such as Sam Worthington, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Mireielle Enos to name only a few, I was amazed at how I couldn’t connect with a single one. They’re all rather unlikeable in their own way especially Enos who practically chews the scenery apart, drawing attention away from all the men (a difficult task considering all the testosterone up on the screen).
Ultimately, I enjoyed the film but found it frustrating. It’s as if there was a compelling story hidden somewhere inside, but it got lost in bloody violence. Above average for this type of fair, SABOTAGE unfortunately just doesn’t fulfill its promise and winds up being aptly named.