This year's "The Raid 2" had a certain beauty to its violence. "Sabotage" is a different kind of action movie. The violence in "Sabotage" is downright ugly. However, that's not a criticism. "Sabotage" is brutal and that's just the way it should be.
David Ayer, the director of "Sabotage", has made a name for himself as the king of the macho movie. His movies frequently star the toughest of tough men who have a certain code of brotherhood as if they were actually blood related. Actually, most of these characters are closer and more loyal to each other than most family members that are portrayed on screen. "Sabotage" deals with what happens when this code of brotherhood is broken.
The plot of "Sabotage" involves a team of DEA agents who find a huge sum of money during a drug bust. The bust goes well and everything seems fine for a while, but then the money disappears and people on the team start to die. Who took the money? Who is killing off the agents? Surely, this group of brothers couldn't betray and kill each other, but soon enough it starts to seem like that may be the only option.
The answers to these questions are provided eventually with different results. Sometimes the answers don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes they make perfect sense. The methods of killing in this movie have been criticized by some as too brutal and without much justification in the plot. I can't say I can explain why certain murders in the film were done the way they were in terms of the plot of the movie, but cinematically they work. The overall tone of this film is brutal and the deaths, action, and attitude of the movie is all on that same wavelength.
The cast here all works. The men are sufficiently macho and the women are too. Sam Worthington, known mostly for "Avatar" and "Terminator: Salvation" is hard to recognize here at first. He is more suited for action here than in any of his other action roles. Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, is the main attraction, however, and he does not disappoint. Any movie where he utters the line "Get down!" is worthwhile for that fact on its own and this movie delivers on that. He gets some truly awesome action movie moments that fit nicely alongside all of his previous great action scenes from movies of the past. Olivia Williams holds her own beside him as a woman investigating the mystery of the missing money and the murder of the DEA team members.
It's great to see Josh Holloway back on the screen after his star-making turn in television's "Lost". Here he shows that he still has a great on screen presence. I also quite enjoyed Mirielle Enos and her character of Lizzy Murray in this film. At first, she may seem to be the female character that proves she can be just as tough as the boys, but what I like is that she is actually more complex than that. She has a wider range of emotions than just rock hard tough.
I recently overheard another critic criticizing "Sabotage" for both its violence and for the character of Lizzy Murray. This person admitted to liking violent movies like "The Raid 2", but said the violence in this movie was unnecessarily brutal. I disagree. While I can't explain in terms of plot why some of the murders in this movie are as brutal as they are, I think the brutality matches the tone and the personalities of the characters in this movie.
As for Lizzy Murray, the criticism I seemed to be hearing about her is that other men in the movie seemed to treat her in a sexist way and that she seemed to not only accept it, but condone it. This movie as a whole was even labeled as sexist. I can't say I agree with this. Whether or not the male characters in this movie are sexist and whether or not the character of Lizzy condones this sexism is up for debate, but even if there are sexist characters in this movie I do not believe it makes the movie itself sexist. Movies can portray all sorts of things and it doesn't really say anything about the intent of the movie or the nature of the people who made the movie. Just because a movie portrays murder doesn't make the filmmakers murderers, right?
Overall, while the story may require some suspension of disbelief, I do believe that "Sabotage" is a successful and entertaining action/mystery movie hybrid. There may be some shaky parts to the plot, but in the end the movie offers lots of entertainment and the story finishes on a really strong note. "Sabotage" is a movie that continues the reign of David Ayer as the current king of the macho movie.