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Sabotage a Gruesome but Glib 'Whodunnit'

  • Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2014 28 Mar
  • COMMENTS
<i>Sabotage</i> a Gruesome but Glib 'Whodunnit'

DVD Release Date: July 22, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: March 28, 2014
Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
Run Time: 110 minutes
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mireille Enos, Olivia Williams,

Sabotage, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest action vehicle,actually boasts a plot that’s more than just an excuse to blow things up and use a lot of ammo. If you like your violence interspersed with several good laughs and enjoy a story that does not telegraph the ending way in advance, you’re in luck.

Sabotage is an honest-to-goodness mystery: someone is killing off members of an elite DEA task force led by John 'Breacher' Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Escape Plan). Who? Why? There are plenty of motives and multiple suspects, including other members of the team. The question is, will they find out who’s behind the murders before they all get picked off? And will the audience be able to spot the killer (or killers) before their potential victims do? It’s a bit of an homage to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, reworked to appeal to today’s violence-happy, bloodthirsty audiences.

Speaking of blood, let’s just make one thing perfectly clear: when you read that this film is rated R for “strong, bloody violence” (among other things) they are not kidding. Viewers are treated to slow-motion car crashes, torture, explosions, squishy bullet wounds, mangled body parts only slightly recognizable as human, and more. Blood flows freely—it also spatters on walls, pools on the ground, and drips from…no, that would be telling.

Despite that, Sabotage does not come across as one of those agonizing experiences where you spend the whole time anticipating the next cringe-worthy moment. For all the ick factor it’s often surprisingly fun to watch. Much of the credit for that goes to director David Ayer, who also shared writing credits. He keeps the action moving and the plot twisting while sprinkling in enough comic relief throughout to keep things from getting too heavy. Given the carnage it would be wrong to call Sabotage light-hearted, but there is a certain sense of playfulness about it. Even one of the murders elicited a laugh from the audience due to the director’s exquisite sense of timing. (Which is kind of sad when you think about it, but then this is not a movie you want to think about that hard.)

SEE ALSO: Last Stand Exactly What You'd Expect in an Arnold Movie

It’s a nice ensemble cast, too. Breaker is, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger in a DEA uniform. He kicks butt, he cracks wise; he’s pretty much business as usual. Fortunately, he has a team of assorted hooligans in DEA uniforms to play with and they add a lot of perverse, profane flair to the proceedings. The two women in major roles both did exceptional jobs. Caroline (Olivia Williams, Anna Karenina), the Atlanta homicide detective investigating the murders, is a smart, tense, tough woman who has learned what it takes to succeed in a man’s world. Underneath that hard-edged exterior, though, she’s not quite as tough as she seems. Watch her hands; they’re the key to her emotional state.

In contrast, Lizzie (Mireille Enos, World War Z), the only female on Breaker’s team, can’t even manage to pretend to be normal. A bundle of addictions wrapped up in bad attitude, Lizzie unfolds layer after layer of different kinds of crazy in a beautifully nuanced performance.

This is not a film for sensitive viewers. Along with the blood, guts, and gore, there are several sultry scenes including some at a strip club complete with the attire (or lack thereof) one might expect at that type of establishment. Many of the characters drink (a lot), do drugs, lie, cheat, steal, kill, maim, and so on. Their language is about what you’d expect.

Nevertheless, trying to determine ‘whodunnit’ really is engaging and it’s an interesting look at human nature and what happens when good people make bad choices. The last few minutes go over the top even for this movie, but all in all, it could have been worse.

SEE ALSO: A Brainy Stallone Aids Escape Plan

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Pervasive use of alcohol to the point of drunkenness; drug use (crystal meth, crack, who knows what all else) and its effects are an important aspect of at least one character.
  • Language/Profanity: The F-bomb is dropped in roughly every other sentence; its use varies from verb to adjective to adverb to noun (sometimes combined with “mother”). All the other usual suspects also make regular appearances: da**, sh** (sometimes designated as “holy” or “bull”), he**,  God-da**, bit**, and anatomical references such as di**, pu**y, ba**s, a**, and so on. The Lord’s name is explicitly taken in vain more than once.
  • Sex/Nudity: We see several couples (one same-sex female) well on their way to intercourse; a woman is raped (although it’s more suggested than shown); several female breasts are shown; the team visits a strip club filled with partially clad women; there’s a lot of discussion about sex and who is doing whom; much amusement over a tattoo-in-progress that is described as looking like “a di**”; a woman is shown skinny-dipping; there’s a joke about one character ‘sexting’ another with the quip “he’s a natural blonde.” A character says they have been “fingering the devil’s pu**y”; there are jokes about porn, invitations to have carnal knowledge of one’s mother, and other off-color remarks.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense:  Torture scenes and multiple grisly images, too many to list here. Death occurs often, sometimes to innocent bystanders, in a variety of creative, violent, horrifying forms.

*Published 3/27/14


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