Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates.
An elite DEA team raids the safe house of a drug cartel and hide $10 million in the plumbing. When they go back to retrieve the money it is not there. The team is under investigation for the missing $10 million. Then after a couple months the investigation is lifted. The team trains together again and then celebrates at a strip club. Then one of the team is murdered. He wakes up in his RV on railroad tracks. Then a second team member is nailed to the ceiling. The third team member is gunned down at his remote cabin. There is a female City of Atlanta investigator in charge of the murders. After investigating the cartel angle, the twisted truth comes to light.
Which is obvious for a David Ayer film, Sabotage gives a grounded depiction to the realm of corruption. It begins acknowledging that crime is nothing to be taken as a joke and one has to think through the stakes before the situation leads to their love ones. It's quite a risky subject taken place on a job of DEA. While the protagonists are hotshots, they also have the capability to get killed in the most mundane ways. But the film meanwhile negates the grander realities and ends up indulging itself into a relentless murder machine that doesn't always make sense. It would be pleasurable if you have fetish for gore, but for the commentaries, it is thematically vague.
The film is at its most interesting when it acknowledges the audience that the job of law enforcements are outright dangerous, like even the strongest hotshots could get wacked in the job. This is a cold-blooded context where no one acts like a superhero to take the job easily, just a bunch of hard-as-nails men prepared to get their body parts blown off. When the plot kicks in, it immediately becomes a mystery where it rigorously jumps into places. Director David Ayer deserves some credit to take us in to a compelling grim world where any deadly consequences are present. But not all of those mundane elements come around consistently. The plot leads to a ridiculous twists that is probably meant to fit for more bloody pleasures. As an action movie, this won't be a problem, but the film seems like it is setting up an ordeal and that piece of revelation kind of ruined it.
The lead character has a backstory that might have been a much interesting ordeal to see, but that isn't what the filmmakers want. It's really about the action, you can see how awesomely shot they are. The camera clearly shows how every piece of flesh gets destroyed. And for sure, B-movie fans will find this fun, seeing how a less sugarcoated violence really looks like. But really, it could have also shown more of the dangers of their situation other than just getting killed horribly. It lacks more exploration to the commentaries of how getting involved to drug lords can lead to an awful feud, like what happened to Breacher's life years ago.
The cast has a bunch of tough guys doing their thing. Arnold Schwarzenegger obviously still has the muscles and everything else is pretty ordinary from him. His crew sometimes feel like they're ghosts where you sometimes didn't notice one of them are actually in that scene. For the female cast, Olivia Williams is able to make her character a lot interesting than what is written in the script, and Mireille Enos shows natural madness and it looks like she's having fun even if it gets out of hand.
Sabotage is disappointing, apparently. You get a director who is an expert at depicting real life crime and law, yet the movie rather tells a ridiculous story which only leaves the context at the background. It might have been cool, but it has a potential of telling something revelatory. All we get now is some sweet madness that action fans usually crave. I'll tell you this, the movie is perfect when you seek for manly action with cold-blooded violence (except if you see this in Philippine theaters where half amount of violence is cut). But looking through their situation, I don't think it's appropriate to call it fun. The film should have gotten the same ambition of Ayer's last movie, End of Watch, where the heroes doesn't always have to be cool. That way, the ordeal and the commentaries would be more visible.
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