Movie review

Blood flows freely in violent 'Sabotage'



So, who's going to miss a little money from a ruthless Mexican drug cartel?

An elite DEA task force decides to pinch a few bricks of cash from the pallet where the ill-gotten gains are stacked high and neat. In the course of the raid into a home guarded like a fortress, the group makes $10 million disappear. Just temporarily, it thinks.

'Sabotage'

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrance Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mirelle Enos.

Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use.


But when the team goes to collect the off-the-books bonus, the stash is gone. Everyone on the team, led by a flinty father figure and veteran nicknamed Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is under suspicion and suspension from active duty.

Team members eventually get their jobs and badges back but not the family feel of the unit. When, like horny teenagers in a horror movie, they start to be picked off one by one, a couple of Atlanta police detectives (Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau) enter the picture to investigate.

Within their own ranks, one of the agents says what they're all thinking: It's the money. "You see any other feds get smoked?"

The body count keeps climbing along with questions about the cash, the undercover agents, the cops and the cartel. Paybacks get personal and bloody and violent and way over the top -- or at the top, when someone ends up in a deathly embrace with a ceiling.

In addition to Mr. Schwarzenegger, members of the team include Mt. Lebanon native Joe Manganiello in cornrows, beard, fake tats and enough machismo menace for an entire movie. Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway and Max Martini round out the cast.

David Ayer, writer of "Training Day" and writer-director of the underrated "End of Watch," does double duty here again although he shares screenplay credit with Skip Woods. Mr. Ayer, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, gravitates toward cops, crime and cat-and-mouse games with high stakes.

"Sabotage" manages just a few one-liners along the wanton way, including this insult from Mr. Schwarzenegger to a doughy questioner: "Look at you, with your 48 percent body fat." He doesn't volunteer his, but, at 66, the former Mr. Universe holds his own against actors two or even three decades younger.

You may not see where "Sabotage" is going, but, then again, you might be distracted by the gruesome disposal of bodies; the widening trail of death and destruction and disproportionately small squad of investigators; the portrayal of women as victims, strippers or fearless cops; and the blood that seeps, drips, pools and splatters.

It's like a cinematic cure for low testosterone.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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