Combustible Celluloid
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With: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Kevin Vance, Mark Schlegel, Ned Yousef, Mireille Enos, Maurice Compte, Martin Donovan, Michael Monks
Written by: Skip Woods, David Ayer
Directed by: David Ayer
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Running Time: 109
Date: 03/28/2014

Sabotage (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Drug Money

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director David Ayer wrote the screenplay for Training Day and directed End of Watch, suggesting that this is a man who knows his way around a story about cops and drug dealers. Like those two movies, Sabotage is a combination of harsh realism and old-fashioned cop movie thrills, with a bit of a mystery thrown in.

DEA agent 'Breacher' Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is in charge of a loose-cannon group of undercover agents whose unorthodox methods have been known to bring down powerful drug lords. During one bust, they uncover a huge pile of money and arrange to steal about $10 million of it. Unfortunately, when they return to the money's hiding place, it's gone.

Some months later, members of the team begin to turn up murdered in gruesome ways, leading them to believe that dangerous cartel members are looking for revenge. But when police investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) comes on the scene, and three dead bodies are found in a lake, it casts a new light on who the killer might be, and why.

It's sharply, smartly written, and takes place in a world that feels real. Where the movie potentially steps wrong is in its intense depiction of bloody violence and brutal gore. Seemingly, Ayer is attempting to illustrate just how dangerous this world is, but it comes across as more sensational, like a horror film, and fairly exhausting. It interferes slightly with the rhythms of what might have been a very strong mystery story. Yet the cast, setting, and pacing pull it together in the end. Schwarzenegger in particular has really found an interesting character to play.

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