Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sabotage - 3 stars

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Breacher, the leader of an elite DEA squad.  These guys are so tough, they have nicknames like Monster, Sugar, Grinder, and Neck.  The movie opens with them conducting a raid on a drug cartel's mansion where they steal $10 million from the cartel.  They stash the money, kill all the drug dealers, and when they return to collect the money they find it missing. 

Over the next six months, the team is interrogated by Internal Affairs.  IA knows they stole money from drug dealers, but they can't prove it and the team doesn't crack.  Once the investigation is over, the team gets back together and goes back to work.  Then, one by one, members of the team start showing up dead in more and more gruesome ways.  Who's killing them off?  The cartel?  Is it one of them?

This movie is a strange clash of styles.  At times, it's really funny.  The team has a lot of fun hurling insults at each other.  A couple of detectives start investigating the murders, and they are a lot of fun together, always busting each others chops.  One of the detectives is played by Olivia Williams, and it's interesting to hear her doing a southern accent.  She actually steals the movie.  I enjoyed watching her get in Schwarzenegger's face and not being intimidated by the team.

When the movie isn't being funny, it's really dark and serious.  This doesn't feel like typical action movies.  The kills are more gruesome, and there are consequences to every action.  In most action movies, you see a car chase and you know it's not realistic.  In real life, there would be crashes and people would be killed.  But in most movies, everyone gets away unscathed, unless it's a principal character and the script requires them to be hurt or killed.  In this movie, innocent bystanders are hurt.  At one point in the car chase, someone is in a car shooting at another car, and a random driver his shot and killed.  A minute later, the car hits a bicycle and the rider's head is smashed in the windshield.

The brutality of this movie is at times a little much.  There were quite a few times when the entire audience gasped in shock, and everyone was silent for a minute.  It's like we're used to our action movies being kind of sterile and this movie just rubs our faces in the brutality.  For some people, this movie will be too much.

But I enjoyed it.  I liked that it was a little out of the ordinary.  I thought the story was interesting and the characters were compelling.  When we find out who is behind the killings, the movie doesn't treat it like a huge reveal.  Instead, it's like the movie says this person is the bad guy, now on to the next scene.  It didn't feel like the movie was counting on us to be really surprised.  It was just another part of the story.

The story doesn't really hold of very well if you think about it too much.  Some of the character's motivations don't make a whole lot of sense, but that wasn't distracting enough to bother me while I was watching the movie.  Another thing I liked was how unlikeable the characters were.  We know from the beginning that Breacher and his team are stealing money.  They're stealing from drug dealers, but all the same, they're not honest cops.  And they don't trust anyone outside the team.  Even though the detectives are trying to solve the murders of their friends, the DEA team abuses the detectives every chance they get.  The only redeeming characters in this movie are the detectives. 

This is a movie that will divide people.  If you're like me and you like good action movies with a good story, but are tired of predictable stories and unrealistic action scenes, you might enjoy it.  But I have talked to several people who absolutely hated the movie.  So, fair warning.

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