Sabotage Screen 7 articles



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  • The blunt point is that these guys (and token gal) have spent so much time undercover that they’ve become psychologically indistinguishable from cartel thugs, though Ayer... muddles it by populating the movie with ineffectual investigators and wormy desk-job types. Were it not so awkwardly constructed, the movie might pass for a celebration of the cartel “family,” whose values the protagonists have adopted as their own.

  • Ayer’s macho-warriors shtick is bad enough on its own; paired with super hack Skip Woods it becomes agonizing. Together they meld into a sort of Amy Heckerling for the Guns and Ammo set, establishing seriousness via a gritty focus on genre fundamentals, impact wounds and apparently realistic dialogue, but this is such dumb, tedious, regressive nonsense that I can’t even begin to appreciate how nasty it is.

  • The dialogue, with its tonnage of off-putting one-liners, has a certain style, but the film defers to an atmosphere of fake urgency brought out by the standard-issue digital photography. There's no sense of visual artifice to match the ludicrous pitch of the script, and subsequently, the film comes off as awkward and uncertain.

  • It’s doubtful that the director, David Ayer (“End of Watch”), who shares script credit with Skip Woods, intentionally embraced self-parody, but it certainly sneaked up on him. The narrative pieces he and Mr. Woods toss out — a dead wife, stolen loot, a D.E.A. investigation, a drug cartel — are hackneyed in the extreme. More memorable and strange is how Mr. Ayer lingers over the movie’s near-vivisectionist moments.

  • Like Michael Mann, whose fascination with the world of criminals and law enforcement he shares, Ayer (who also wrote “Training Day”) is a detail fetishist who brings a lot of firsthand knowledge to his cinematic depictions of police work. But “Sabotage” jumps the shark early and often with its ever-thickening web of deceit [and] elaborately fabricated cover-ups...

  • Sabotage starts off as a fun, nasty, occasionally surprising little piece of genre filmmaking. But it gradually loses the thread... Sabotage, as good as it is in its first half, can’t keep it together. Partly, it’s a matter of design: As the team starts to get picked off, there’s less chemistry to enjoy, and we have to settle for increasingly uninspired action theatrics, including one truly terrible car chase.

  • In truth, he’s the same old Arnold—out for blood, just getting there with less puns and by more roundabout means. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Indeed, you’re thankful when Ayer stops trying to artistically tart up this Peckinpah-lite tale of vengeance and just lets his leading man do what he does best: blow the bad guys away.