director: David Ayer
writers: Skip Woods & David Ayer
starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Mireille Enos
genre: Action | Crime | Mystery
released: March 28, 2014 (U.S.), April 10, 2014 (Germany), May 1, 2014 (Australia), June 19, 2014 (Greece)
One thing is sticking to your guns and playing the unstoppable action hero to the bitter end and it's a whole other thing trying to branch yourself out and play second fiddle here and there. Though even with Schwarzenegger's recent efforts to make something different happen. His latest film ends up being one of those films that accomplishes to contribute another mildly interesting and incomplete mystery, while having its stellar ensemble cast never feel close to properly being appreciated.
A rough and tumble DEA group is accused of stealing 10 million dollars from a drug bust and are put on permanent suspension until cleared of suspicion. Within six months their thrown right back into the field for a lack of evidence.
Suspiciously with their reinstatement, the DEA group is being slowly taken out one by one. Suspicion grows further to who the culprit might be and if it's connected to the stolen money, to an older score or even to a member of the group.
Team leader John 'Breacher' Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tries to keep the team unified during this unrest, but it won't be easy with police investigations on their back and the murders of their close friends and colleagues hapenning left and right.
For a red herring/"who done it" film I've seen worse. The mystery behind who did the 10 million dollar DEA heist isn't what most would have expected from the film. I'd say a large amount of people didn't know exactly what to anticipate from the film's trailer. As it doesn't lead you on what path the film is going to take you or who could be possible culprit. Unusual, but highly important.
Also the character relationships and archetypes in the film are interesting and most would have wished they were more fleshed out. In general the film goes for the realistic and violent world vibe and that the DEA team are like a family together. But all the murders of the squad are a little bit too elaboretly constructed and the family aspect that is sold in the film never is given time to be explored.
Concerning the mystery of who took the money, it could have been done better if there was the one plot on top of other formula. Meaning focus on one story thread, while the other lies in the background. This is done slightly in the film but it's only connected to the mystery and not to anything else character related or to the DEA group's daily job. I think if the film had a structure similar to the film "Heat", it would have worked to its advantage.
After the mystery of who was the DEA squad killer, we get to the actual reason behind the heist of the drug cartel money. Which may make a little bit of sense, but needed a lot more character building and connective tissue for the rest of the supporting characters in the film.
Moreover the thief of the money is connected to a bunch of murders related to Arnie's DEA crew. Which once you get to the end of the film, you will realize that there was no point to it. With no real motivation or back story to justify that character or characters' actions. None, none whatsoever! As well as no clarification ever to how someone eventually found out that the money went missing in the first place. Not from the cops or from the Mexican mafia supposedly.
Lastly and according to the IMDb trivia page of the film. "Director David Ayer: Sabotage was heavily cut by the studio in favor of delivering more of an action based film rather than a mystery thriller. The original cut of "Sabotage" was rumored to be close to 3 hours." If this is true then I want my director's cuts. For all the lost character time and red herring build up.
A little bit of tinkering script wise and we could have had a better film here. Because it manages to have an amazing cast, decent cinematography and a mystery that could have been more sophisticated than its end result. Instead we get a misfired effort that will leave most undoubtedly disappointed.