*NEW* SABOTAGE REVIEW *NEW*

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This was sabotaged from the start.

Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.

From the guys who brought you End of Watch and Training Day. That tagline delivered so much promise BUT failed on so many levels.

From the opening, I felt like I joined the movie halfway through. It certainly grabbed my attention BUT only because I was so bloody confused.

It kept flashing forward as we follow a botched raid on a Mexican cartel safe house and the ongoing investigation after a $10 million overhaul went missing.

Considering the strong cast consisting of; Terrence Howard (Empire), Josh Holloway (LOST), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Mirielle Enos (The Killing US) and Arnold “GET DOWN!” Schwarzenegger, I haven’t seen such an UN-interesting bunch of characters in quite some time.

The cliched macho talk and poor banter did nothing to win me over. The cartel stuff was so generic. It was merely used as a poor plot device to hide the inevitable backstabbing that would inevitably happen among the team.

This could have been a perfect platform for Arnie to have a pop at some serious acting. I couldn’t think of anybody better to play the head honcho of a dysfunctional and deadly team BUT I have to say that this was one of his most wooden performances to date. And that is saying something! He made something that should have been a sure thing on paper seem like such a stretch.

After watching Big Love and the American remake of the Killing, it made a change to see Enos play a drug addicted adrenaline junkie on the verge of a breakdown. Tragically, the more we saw of her character, the more annoying she got. So annoying in fact that I prayed for her swift exit.

Worthington’s performance was laughable from his mangled accent to his horrendous beard. A shame, really. His character was the only one that had a little bit of depth. Albeit, a cliched one.

The story line involving corrupt cops should have been writer David Ayer’s forte (by now) BUT alarm bells were ringing at the obvious plot holes – it had to be a team member that stole the payload. Because every other cartel member was butchered.

After a stupid BUT watchable first act, it took a good half hour before anything really happened. My curiousity was finally peaked when (out of the blue) a team member was bumped off in a highly gruesome manner. Olivia Williams’ (Rushmore) introduction was a much needed trigger and certainly got the ball rolling.

BUT I was too distracted by her nauseating accent. Her character was a total bad ass. BUT she caved into Arnie’s “charm” so easily and had a terrible sidekick in Harold Perrineau.

The wafer thin characters and agonizing pace didn’t do the movie any favours and even when the body count rose, my interest sank. The cloak and dagger stuff behind the task force had potential as Williams’ investigation was hindered by red tape.

I don’t mind dodgy and corrupt antagonists BUT I just didn’t care by the end. The Shield (one of my favourite shows) had me secretly rooting for the bad guys BUT the only rooting I did for Sabotage was for it to finish.

It felt like Ayer was poking fun at the very genre that he has been so accustomed to. For all their flaws, Harsh Times and Street Kings were solid efforts by comparison.

A dull story line with poor revelations was thankfully thrown out the window BUT replaced with an even more ridiculous shoot em up and a laughable street chase with incredibly dire techno video game music.

The ending was horrendous. It was supposed to be this big unravelling moment and a huge sombre footnote to the piece BUT it was just terrible. The overlong pace and poor storytelling literally left a stellar cast waiting around for Arnie to show more life than an IKEA table.

I’ve never been so disappointed in a Swarnie flick and it’s not as if the expectations were ever high in the first place.

2/5

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TERMINATOR: GENISYS REVIEW

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He’s back but should he have bothered? Let judgement day commence (See what I did there) as I tear into the latest offering of the Terminator franchise.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I expected.

So what happens this time? John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

I think it really comes down to how much of a Terminator fan. You are. One thing we can settle on. If you didn’t like the first Terminator, then firstly why are you here? And secondly, don’t bother seeing this one.

The original was (NO! IS!) a sci-fi classic. A iconic and incredibly quotable piece of filmmaking. I didn’t think Cameron could top it. Boy oh how I was wrong. Terminator 2: Judgement Day proved that sequels could surpass their predecessor. Taking it to another level.

BUT then we had to have more. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines may have been a cliched-ridden retread of Judgement Day with a wailing Carrie from Homeland. BUT somehow I still enjoyed it (What?). Oh well . . .

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Terminator: Salvation was far far too serious. And Sam Worthington’s story line was a little weak. Different but weak. Plus one brief CGI Arnie cameo? Come on. AND Christian Bale as John Connor?! You couldn’t get any better casting! BUT of course, we all knew he took that far too seriously :/

And now we have another sequel. Another number in a franchise that no one really expected or wanted. Especially after ROTM . . . For some. A snippet of an ageing Arnie fighting his CGI 1984 self and I was sold for this latest offering.

If anything, it got straight to business. Explosions, carnage and mayhem. The inevitable voiceover explaining the consequences of Judgement Day. Even if I noticed the date had changed again. A niggle but one that I kept quiet about.

The only problem was that there would be more of those niggles to come. Courtney seemed a little wooden as Reese to begin with. BUT then he was playing the soldier tasked with saving the resistance and possibly the entire world . . . Apparently.

We have had a number of John Connors in the past (The irony in that statement) but Jason Clarke does enough to hold his own and plays the future saviour well.

The 3D was actually pretty good. Cyborgs and missiles flying out or zipping across the screen in every other scene kept my eyes twitching. Brilliant. Worth the investment. I loved the pace. The film didn’t really drag and within 15 minutes, Reese was already embarking on his biggest mission yet.

BUT this time everything has changed. I will do my utmost NOT to spoil anything BUT I give my warning now.

Something happens that changes everything. Reese goes back to an alternate 1984. What I loved was the shot for shot re-enactment of the original Terminator opening. The alleyway, the clothes store. It ticked all the boxes for continuity for me. The Terminator fan in me buzzing. And once a hooded ageing Arnie revealed himself to his ’84 counterpart, “I’ve been waiting for you”. I had a big grin like a Cheshire cat.

BUT with all the timey wimey guff. I could feel myself asking questions. Does that mean that the events in the other Terminator movies never happened now? That universe now gone. It certainly meant so for the ROTM and Salvation films. Some will rejoice. Others maybe surprised. Game changer?

Things got even more baffling as one of the officers turned out to be a T-1000 in disguise. NO Robert Patrick, guys. Sorry. I was gutted. Not even a CGI version. Byung-hun Lee didn’t do a half bad job. BUT he was always going to fall short of Doggett. Sorry, Kristanna Loken.

On the issue of perfect casting, I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the feisty female fighter that would give birth to the leader of the Resistance than Emilia “Khaleesi” Clarke. Aspects of Sarah Connor’s character may have changed but if anything it was for the good. I loved Linda Hamilton but her 1984 Sarah Connor unfortunately was a blithering mess (And rightly so. She was a waitress in her twenties being chased by a future assassin).

I loved that she was resilient, resourceful and knew what to do. Even if her “Pop” was an emotionally detailed future cyborg. If anyone was a blithering mess, it was Reese. Clarke and Courtney had great chemistry. Which, of course, would be crucial. They worked well and made their inevitable pairing a lot more bearable and watchable.

BUT of course, there is one man. That Austrian bodybuilder who would become one of the most iconic figures in film history. The spewer of a thousand quotes. Oh yes, he’s back! And very much on form. Arnie proves that age hasn’t hindered his commitment or humour.

Surprisingly, he is not in it as much as you think but every time he is, he steals the scene. Some cheeky scientific mumbo jumbo about ageing skin tissue to explain an ageing Arnie and we are good to go. “OLD but not obsolete” mutters the Austrian cyborg. A demented smile spreading across his face. Legend.

Writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier don’t do a bad job of tackling the alternate realities. The theorizing did get a little heavy in the middle act after all the mayhem. All they had missing was a mad Doc with a chalkboard in the background. BUT luckily Arnie’s charm politely pokes fun at the ridiculousness of it all and lightens the mood.

It does work. Theoretically speaking. I was just a little annoyed that the trailers revealed a little too much about John. It would have been such a bigger twist if it wasn’t being heavily flogged everywhere. He’s not the John we know, anymore. An interesting development. Some may argue that it is another retread of T2. BUT Skynet messing with the saviour? Come on.

J.K. Simmons was great as O’Brien. A copper who keeps crossing paths with the time travellers over the years. It’s just a shame his character was a little unnecessary. An Oscar winner and still only given tidbits? Really? He still nails it though.

The special effects were fantastic! I was worried from all the early trailers that the new CGI was getting worse and more cartoony. Luckily they must have gone back over the film because the detail was impressive. Still got nothing on Stan Winston’s works BUT not bad. At least Arnie didn’t look like he had silver velcro on his face like the early images offered.

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As I mentioned, Skynet inevitably make an appearance but with a new face. Trust me. The actor they chose for the role will spur a number of ironic time jokes but I’m not going to spoil it. BUT WHO? WHO? WHO could it be?

By the closing moments, I felt baffled and numb. The plot holes and questions increasing as the fiery finale came to a close. Things are definitely left open because the future must still happen for future Arnie to come and save a seven year old Sarah? Because that reality is still happening? Right? Yep. Marks did drop for that.

BUT to get a seal of approval from James Cameron as the film that should have followed on from Judgement Day must mean something. I didn’t see him do that for the others. If there are going to be more instalments of this calibre then I am prepared to keep watching.

I actually feel excited about the next one. And hell, the pay off might not be that bad. It will never top T1 and T2. That was always going to be a huge ask BUT it did tick the majority of the boxes and surprised me. Something I didn’t expect.

GET TO THE MOVIES NOW!

3.5/5

THE EXPENDABLES 3 REVIEW

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They’re back. The Dad’s Army of has been action heroes return for a third and possibly final adventure with ridiculous OTT action sequences, hammy dialogue and cheesy banter.

In all fairness, I went in fearing the worst but it wasn’t all that bad. Hardly great BUT in terms of cheesy entertainment, surprisingly watchable. The only downfall was Stallone’s feeble attempt at injecting new faces to prolong this hardly must see franchise with cliched, bland newbies that fail to have the reputation to pull in interest or (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the acting ability to carry it.

The first hour was watchable, pacey and chugged along well. The opening prison train sequence was OTT, cheesy but fun and there’s plenty of it in this.

The return of Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson to the big screen was a sight to see. Despite their previous misdemeanours, both showed why they still know how to steal the show. Snipes was on fine form . . . to begin with.

A great introduction in which Stallone lectures him on his incarceration. Cue Statham asking what he was in for. I thought in my head, “It would be great if he said a tax joke” and before I know it, bam! Tax evasion. I think that’s what helped the hammy dialogue, the banter, the little pops at each other.

The number of digs at Stallone for his speech. Even daring enough to pop a stroke gag. All in reasonably good taste. Snipes seemed to take over Terry Crews’ role which I found highly strange. Can there not be two black guys? We have one. Don’t need another, apparently.

Crews got one moment to shine involving a chain gun before getting injured or something surprisingly weak for this macho filled mess of a blockbuster. To be honest, it was to do with contractual obligations more than anything. Still, his presence was missed.

The camaraderie among the Expendables was decent. All the old boys having a laugh and not giving a sh- blind bit of notice. And why should they? However, the middle act tested me with lulling generic clichéd one liners and poses. Ol’ Swarnie was not in it enough and when he was first introduced, his lines were bland and highly unmemorable and this is Swarnie, for crying out loud.

The story line went predictable as hell with Stallone confronting an old foe and former Expendable in the form of old Gibbo. Cue a self-deprecating suicide mission with Stallone pushing away the old gang and bringing new faces (in the form of ex-mixed martial arts fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz and that dude from Twilight, Kellan Lutz) to tackle William Wallace.

It took a while for Gibson to shine. Once he gets to confront and endure the inaudible screaming of Stallone (Seriously I could not understand a word that man was saying. More so than usual), he gets to deliver malice to some cliched lines.

And that’s the thing that all the oldies prove. They may lack the vigour and pace of their younger counterparts (I mean, come on, they are in their SIXTIES) but their acting and charisma prove why they are still the big dogs and these young pups still have a lot to learn. They may look tough and do their own stunts but when it comes to acting. Generic face pulling and grimaces is just not good. Yes, you can say that for Stallone but the guy is an icon. These young ‘uns . . . Pfft.

The inevitable out with the old, in with the new I don’t need you spiel was always going to end the same way. It was unnecessary and so predictable with the oldies soon being called in again. It did make me laugh when the star studded line up appeared. Dolph (The Punisher/Drago) Lundgren, Arnold (Get to the Chopper!) Schwarzenegger, Harrison (Get Off My Plane!) Ford, Mel (Braveheart) Gibson, Wesley (Blade/Demolition Man) Snipes and . . . Kelsey Grammer.

Frasier (I’m listening) Crane. What he’s going to do? Step on a rake and mutter away like Sideshow Bob? Anyway, I digress. In all fairness, Grammer was actually pretty good in the small part he played. Some friendly banter with Rocky as they pick the next group of recruits.

Harrison Ford was actually pretty good. Great to see he still has a sense of humour and lighten up. He plays the hard ass role to perfection and still has that sinister conviction of Air Force One; even if his lines don’t make sense. Trust me there’s a line about somebody messing it up and him wearing it that had me scratching my head. Stallone’s writing was never brilliant. But let’s not forget he did Rocky (however, he also did Rocky 4 and 5 etc).

The Stath’s acting was surprisingly wooden. Disappointing. Antonio Banderas was pretty much doing a live action impersonation of Puss in Boots. His intro said it all with Stallone Shrek (What?) and Grammer his donkey.

The action pieces are pretty good. There are moments where it got a bit too erratic and manic that the shaky camera work struggles to keep up and so do you. An issue I had with the first Expendables movie.

It gets OTT, ridiculous and corny as hell but the explosive finale allowed for all cheesy one liners with Swarnie getting to throw as many Chopper references as you could want.

All in all, if you’re looking for a big dumb shoot em up with some old 80s and 90s action heroes and some bang for your buck then give it a go.

Otherwise, move along folks! I didn’t really rate the first film. I thought it was okay. The second I still haven’t seen. This one was not bad. A guilty pleasure.

2.5/5 for me