Get out your guts and blood money, we're reviewing Sabotage!
When Cochese (Nathan Wind) has to take a rookie, Bobby (Vic Colfari), on a drug bust, he'll be in for one crazy surprise! Guest-starring Sir Stewart Wallace as himself, our heroes will have to – wait, what do you mean this has nothing to do with the Beastie Boy's song Sabotage? What the hell is it about, then!?
Okay, in all seriousness: What the hell is up with movies starting off with a woman being tortured and raped? Between this and 300: Rise of an Empire, is this becoming a new trend? WHY!? You realize that when you start a movie off with rape, you're already fighting an uphill battle to get to a good movie? It automatically drops down to a 1 out of 5, and that movie better do a damn good job of explaining why it deserves better. Maybe we should just instate a policy of automatically walking out of any movie that starts with a dumb, grossly unneeded rape scene, and demanding our money back. Immediately.
So anyway, our real movie is about Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his DEA team making a bust on a cartel. Breacher’s team includes Lizzy (Mireille Enos), Sugar (Terrance Howard), Monster (Sam Worthington) and Grinder (Joe Manganiello). Not only are they working on a bust, they’re also secretly planning to steal ten million of a huge cash drug bust. But when they go to retrieve the money, it's gone! Six months later, still no one knows where the money is, and members of Breacher's team start turning up dead. Who's killing them off, and where did the money go?
It's really annoying that the movie started out with the rape and torture scene. I say unneeded because it has to do with them killing off Breacher's wife and son (his son is off-screen killed because heaven forbid you show a guy get tortured! Right?) before the start of the movie and making him an angry dad, complete with revenge subplot. The whole thing ruins the movie. You could remove that whole plot, build his character outside the “typical angry dad with revenge subplot” mold, and the film would be leagues better. It's so generic and trite and dumb. And not to get too into spoilers, but it ruins the whole narrative, causing his motives to make no sense. Plus, it makes the movie way too long.
The whole thriller aspect (working out who took the money and is killing off the team) is actually really interesting. But then this stupid subplot comes in and cranks the interest level to zero. There's a scene where Breacher sleeps with the detective heading the homicide investigation, Caroline (Olivia Williams), to get information from her. And that doesn’t make a lick of sense and is SUPER dumb if he's still grieving over his dead wife! Why would he do that and not just be friends with her?
The dialogue is spoken so that it sounds good at first, but then quickly loses its punch once you realize that every character speaks the same way. I want to like it, because it can be fun, witty and natural in that ultra-violent-swearing kind of way, but when literally every character sounds like that, I just picture the writer arguing with himself. There needs to be variety. It helps that there's a huge cast of great actors, but they still all have the same voice. It's crazy how many good actors are in this. There are two guys from Lost even!
It's a shame the story isn't better, because this movie boasts some really bloody, over-the-top action scenes. Fun stuff! Guts being yanked out, blood splattering everywhere, machine guns and sniper rifles, and an incredible chase-shootout scene at the end that's a ton of crazy fun. Arnold doesn't get to use his physicality all that much – he seems more like old Clint Eastwood with a shotgun rather than classic Arnold – but there's tons of gun porn here. Also, this may be the first time that a husband was stuffed into a refrigerator! Literally.
I don't know how I feel about its use of female characters. On the one hand, its two main women, Lizzy and Caroline, seem like fully-fleshed out characters and they both get to do badass stuff. They're not damsels or side characters and they get as much action and dialogue as the boys. On the other hand, there are lots of strippers and strip clubs and half naked women getting sexed in that kind of… guy-movie-objectifying-women-with-men-still-fully-clothed way. Also, token female: Why doesn't Lizzy get a nickname? It’s weird that she's the only girl on the team and the only one not to get a nickname, right? Yeah, I thought so, too.
Also weird: the movie's stance on not having safe casual sex. I don't care about your character or cover: you make that guy wear a condom. There's also the rape, and some uncomfortable threats/come-ons made to Caroline, and frequent derogatory use of female names like calling someone a girl as an insult AND some transphobic stuff thrown in because, hey – why the hell not. Gross. Really offensive. It feels like a 90's dick flick. I need a movie like this to be better than that. It’s really juvenile and offensive in the wrong kind of way.
Seriously, now: How can you call a movie Sabotage without having the Beastie Boys' song play once? Isn't that a crime? Maybe the Beastie Boys saw the movie and they said "no way." I’d understand that.
THE GOOD: Great action, huge cast, very bloody, dialogue has interesting voice, husband stuffed in refrigerator, good intrigue in main story, fleshed-out female characters.
THE BAD: Starts with a rape, angry dad side-story, wife and kid "stuffed in refrigerator", transphobic and offensive language, too long, dialogue only has one voice, end of story doesn't make sense, no Beastie Boys’ Sabotage.
THE VERDICT: $$$ Hard maybe. It's got some great action but maybe wait until it's out on DVD and they make a director's cut where they cut out the dumb angry dad revenge plot. It's a shame because this has all the makings for being a really good noir thriller, too.
MOVIES LIKE IT: 2 Guns, The Last Stand, Pain & Gain, Commando, Savages
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: In the beginning, Lizzy is undercover as a… hooker? Or maybe just a cartel concubine? Anyway, she is about to have sex with a guy (who doesn't want to use a condom – COME ON, LIZZY!) but then when her team arrives, she kicks him in the balls, shoots a bunch of guys, jumps out the window in her underwear and suits up into her gear. I… kind of want the whole movie to be about her.