John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews


Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama

Director: David Ayer

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Max Martini, Josh Holloway

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: March 28th, 2014

If you think about some of the loudest and most obnoxious people you’ve ever met, cheapest you probably have a good idea of what the main characters in the new film Sabotage are like. The men and the one woman who take center stage here are supposed to be undercover DEA agents but it would be hard to miss this obnoxious crew walking into your city, prescription let alone investigating drug cartels undercover.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars here as John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, prostate a drug enforcement team leader. His group is composed of men like Joe ‘Grinder’ Phillips (Joe Manganiello), Sam Worthington (James ‘Monster’ Murray) and Julius ‘Sugar’ Edmonds (Terrence Howard)— men you wouldn’t trust to cat sit for you, let alone investigate high-profile cases. Early on, his group of  ruffians is investigated for stealing ten million dollars from a drug raid. After months of investigation, though, the group is cleared of wrongdoing and they are sent back into service. But soon enough, members of the team start getting killed one by one leading to suspicions within the team’s ranks.

It’s like a dumb version of I Know What You Did Last Summer with body builders.

An investigator named Caroline (Olivia Williams) is eventually forced into this sick world of penile jokes and fraternal slacking. She is tasked with finding out who is murdering these agents and why.

Director David Ayer places his characters in dark and disgusting locations to show the grittiness of their world. He did the same thing in his last film End of Watch, which explored the partnership between two cops working in a downtrodden area (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena). That film worked in part because it showed the characters as fully-realized people who worked in tough environments but who also had more personal relationships outside of that world.

Here, the grittiness is nonstop, showing the characters only as dark and mean-spirited and not revealing them as real or authentic. If there is one character who could earn our admiration, it’s Wharton who tragically lost his wife and son before the story begins. Yet, it’s hard to feel bad for him because he spends his evenings watching videos of his wife being tortured by a drug cartel.

In many films about tragedies (like the wonderful Rabbit Hole), grieving spouses or parents watch videos of their lost loved ones at their best. Wharton doesn’t do that. Like a sociopath, he watches the torture video.

If that wasn’t enough to make you queasy, the dialogue here is atrocious cutting out subtly and replacing it with machismo. Some of the lines here are so bad that it’s impossible not to laugh at them. “Everything happens for a reason. Think about that,” states one character. That’s a terrible way to look at this movie because if you stop to think, you’ll wonder why this movie was made in the first place. If that wasn’t enough, Wharton notes “It’s time to do the Lord’s work” right before he brings his team to the strip club.

This picture is that shockingly bad and grotesque. I felt like I was getting dumber in the theater. David Ayers, who helped Skip Woods on the script, previously wrote features like the light-hearted The Fast and the Furious and the truly-gritty Training Day so this feels like a clear step down for him.

Life is short so you shouldn’t waste it watching atrocious movies like this. As one of the characters here would say, think about that.

Review by: John Hanlon