Action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in “Sabotage”, with an ensemble film that is part thriller, part action, and part western. Schwarzenegger plays John Breacher, the leader of a top D.E.A. squad who take on the worst of the criminal underworld in the war on drugs.
Breacher has become a celebrity for his exploits as the numerous pictures of him with former Presidents attest to. It is learned that after bringing down a drug Kingpin, Breacher had his wife and son kidnapped in retaliation and he was forced to watch them tortured to death via video for refusing to turn himself over to the kidnappers for retaliation.
The brutal and drawn out nature of the crimes has haunted Breacher and as the film opens he is leading his team on a raid of a mansion filled with cash and bad guys.
His team is very efficient at what they do but have both physical and mental scars from their experiences. The raid goes almost as planned, but Breacher and his team are accused of taking ten million dollars from the crime scene after the raid as it was learned that the F.B.I. were also keeping tabs on the locale.
Six months pass and despite being an outcast, Breacher and his team are returned to active duty after the closure of the investigation against them. With most of his agency convinced someone on the team has taken the money, Breacher and company celebrate their return to active status.
Their celebration is short-lived when members of the team start being killed in brutal fashion. The fact that highly trained operatives are able to be killed in this manner has raised some red flags especially to local detective Brentwood (Olivia Williams), who thinks there may be more to the cases than first thought. The fact that the D.E.A. is not helping with her investigation and the fact that the bodies are starting to pile up lead her and Breacher into an uneasy alliance to find the killer(s).
What follows is a methodical, but at times action packed film that results in an ending that is disappointing compared to what it could have been.
After the final revelation was revealed, it seemed to me that the methods taken did not match up well with the timeline, opportunity, and motivations of the characters involved. The more I thought about the film the more I was convinced that there were easier ways for things to be accomplished or explained and that perhaps there were too many Red Herrings along the way.
The cast is the film is top notch from Terrance Howard, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello and Josh Holloway, and this is one of Schwarzenegger’s most mature and diverse roles in memory. I liked the ambiguity of his character as he was not the one man killing machine and unstoppable force of nature that he has portrayed countless times before.
Breacher is a haunted and troubled man who is highly capable at what he does and enjoys doing it even though it has cost him everything he holds dear. The film seemed to be unable to find an identity as it started out as a very gripping drama that had you guessing but took some turns that strained to be credible and became a conglomeration of action clichés and western nostalgia which is a shame as the cast and premise offered so much more as did the first part of the film.
Director David Ayer keeps things moving along and is to be praised for not letting the action overshadow the characters but sadly the final act of the film comes up short and undermines what could have been a classic mix of action and drama.
The film fails as an effective action film or drama which results in an at times enjoyable but largely forgettable effort.
3 stars out of 5.
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