Film Review: Sabotage

After seeing Sabotage, I fully understand why people are criticizing it so harshly…it is UGLY. This is as bleak and dark as a film can be and I liken it’s poor reception very much to that of last years Ridley Scott/Cormac McCarthy opus, The Counselor. If you need a movie to hold your hand, paint a pretty picture and wrap things up nicely with no consequences at the end, then you will not like this film. At all.

Director David Ayer (Street Kings, End of Watch) is proving to be one of the best in the business when it comes to dark crime dramas and he is firing on all cylinders here. There are some magnificent shots in this film, all the action scenes are planned out and quick cuts are blissfully avoided. POV cameras (another peeve of mine) while occasionally used, are used extremely well and create extra intensity in what are already wonderfully choreographed gun fights. Oh, and SQUIBS…there are honest to god, practical blood fx squibs being used here. A lot of them. Now, if you know what that is, then you can understand why that is a truly excellent thing. There is a bit of cgi blood, but it is used sparingly and only to intensify the initial spatter of the squibs themselves.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the plot of Sabotage, but it went above and beyond, creating a gritty, realistic world for its characters to live in. The characters themselves are all incredibly flawed, borderline sociopaths whom as a result of chasing down the worlds most ruthless scumbags, has left them all just as much a gang as they are federal agents. However, none of them really stand out, except for Mireille Enos, who plays “Lizzy” a drugged out member of Arnold’s team who is just as lethal with her hands as she is a gun. Her performance is fantastic and utterly real. That brings me to Arnold himself…as a tremendous Schwarzenegger fan, I can honestly say acting has never been his strong suit. He was first and foremost an action star whose physique alone gave believability to whatever ridiculous character he was playing. But in Sabotage, Arnold (now 67) tries out his acting chops and it is great. This is an ugly, flawed Arnold who is completely believable as a weathered soldier who has lost his way. If Sabotage is any indication of what he’s capable of, then I really look forward to seeing him take on more complex roles like this.

I honestly can’t recommend Sabotage as a film for everyone…but if you like your action films violent, a bit on the darker side and with flawed characters who don’t fit into such neat categories of black and white, then I can’t recommend it enough. Easily the best film I’ve seen 2014 provide so far and already a solid contender for my best of the year list.

-Sock Talk Jon-

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