Sabotage movie review: DEAd end gang

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

Sabotage yellow light

Feels like a cheap action flick and not the serious drama it is presented as, and plays like an unintentional call to end drugs prohibition and the idiotic war between cartels and law enforcement.
I’m “biast” (pro): love David Ayer’s films

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

They’re “the best undercover agents in the DEA,” says team leader John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger: Escape Plan)… so good, in fact, that Breacher is able to live in an enormous mansion clearly not paid for on a federal salary, and his bosses don’t seem to find this problematic. Still, even they cannot ignore $10 million going missing from Wharton’s latest raid on a cartel safehouse. (That the amount of money missing from a burnt pile of cash can be pinpointed so precisely — and correctly! — is a major plothole here. Another character even points this out. Yet the movie continues on its merry way regardless.) Yup, the cash was whisked away by Wharton and his crew, portrayed by a cast utterly unconcerned with creating even obliquely sympathetic characters: Sam Worthington (Wrath of the Titans), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike), Josh Holloway (Paranoia), Terrence Howard (Prisoners), Max Martini (Pacific Rim), and, as the least Smurfette Smurfette ever, Mireille Enos (World War Z). The lack of sympathy becomes an issue when the $10 million Breacher and Co. rightfully stole disappears and his crew turns on one another as they start dying in horrific ways and no one knows whether one of their own is the killer, covering up his or her absconding with the cash, or whether it’s the cartel getting revenge. Because it’s almost impossible to care. The procedural aspect of the story, led by a local Atlanta cop (Olivia Williams: Anna Karenina) as she investigates the murders of the DEA agents, is competently executed… until it requires that she do something really really stupid and, from all we’ve seen of her up to this point, out of character. Compared to writer (with Skip Woods: A Good Day to Die Hard) and director David Ayer’s previous film, the brilliant End of Watch, this feels like a cheap action flick and not the serious drama it is presented as. Mostly, though, Sabotage plays like an unintentional call to end drugs prohibition and the idiotic war between cartels and law enforcement, which, it would seem, is doing nothing but making them all rich until they get prematurely dead.

share and enjoy
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll, anti-abuse measure. If your comment is not spam, trollish, or abusive, it will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately. (Further comments may still be deleted if spammy, trollish, or abusive, and continued such behavior will get your account deleted and banned.)
notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Wed, May 07, 2014 11:55pm

I’ve been excited for this one to come to DVD, and I’m sad but not surprised to see it utilizes the ol’ competent person making dumb decisions trope that so many action movies rely on.

I just watched OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN yesterday and oh my god it was so stupid! For instance.

I’ll still watch SABOTAGE if only because I hear Arnold and Joe Manganiello have some good chemistry and a couple cool fights.

Wed, May 14, 2014 3:41pm

Aww, you mean it’s not the movie from the Beastie Boys video? Pity. That would have been better.