The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>Sabotage</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Sabotage

After a failed attempt to steal from a Mexican cartel, the members of an elite DEA team find themselves killed one by one.

Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Olivia Williams

Eight months after his wife and son were brutally murdered by a Mexican drug cartel, DEA agent John Wharton (Schwarzenegger) leads his team in an attempt to steal $10 million from the cartel. Someone intercepts the money before Wharton's team can get to it, however, leading to the disbanding of the operation while the crew are investigated by Internal Affairs. Six months later, with no evidence gathered, John is given the chance to reform the team but, one by one, the members find themselves assassinated, seemingly by the cartel.
Though Agatha Christie receives no official credit, David Ayer's latest is loosely inspired by Christie's Ten Little Indians, but this is a world away from Christie's village greens and tea with the vicar. From the opening scene, where Schwarzenegger's wronged vengeance obsessed DEA man views a video tape of his wife's torture at the hands of Mexican cartel thugs, it's clear Ayer is out to shock. The level of gruesome violence on display here is sickening, but not in the way Ayer likely intended. It's the type of violence that makes you question whether it's architect should be allowed walk the streets, filmed with the disturbed relish of a child burning a scorpion with a magnifying glass. Imagine a Paul Verhoeven movie with the satire removed and you'll get the idea.
Casting against type is the order of the day here. Schwarzenegger is cast as a foul-mouthed crooked DEA agent who is happy to gun down innocent bystanders in his quest for revenge. The effect of hearing the former Governor of California swear on screen is, for an eighties kid, like seeing Frank Oz's hand emerge from Miss Piggy's rectum. It breaks an illusion that Arnie may well look back on as a curtain best left drawn. Mireille Enos seems to be having a lot more fun than the audience as an insane, crack addicted harpy, and to round off the casting against type, Sam Worthington is given the role of a human being with a pulse.
Ayer and co-writer Skip Woods might boast of how unpredictable their script is, but it only contains the element of surprise because the plot twists make little sense and the logistics of how certain characters were able to pull off certain events are never explained.
The Expendables would have made for a more fitting title for this particular Arnie vehicle. Any more bad choices like this (the film crashed and burned at the US box office on its release last month) and the Austrian will find himself with an expendable career.

Eric Hillis