*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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IF I STAY REVIEW

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I should have stayed at home is . . . what I thought I would be saying after watching this. But surprisingly this . . . uh . . . surprised me.

The corny coma chick flick meets the cantankerous cynic of a critic and for all my griping (which there may be a smidgeon), there is still beneath its cheesy surface; an easygoing and brilliantly acted drama. I can feel the man points dropping off but here we go.

So what’s it all about? Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.

From the trailers and weepy teenage girls with their tissue boxes at the ready, I feared an incredibly schmaltzy, corny OTT teen love story. To an extent, it is. But I was proven wrong before with The Fault In Our Stars. Chloe Grace Moretz has matured from Hit Girl and impresses yet again, proving that she can handle the lead role.

The cast are perfectly chosen. Mirielle Enos (The Killing USA) and Joshua Leonard (Men Of Honor) play the hard rock junkie super cool parents fantastically to Moretz’s inevitably stuffy, uptight cello playing Mia. That is until she meets Jamie Blackley (Snow White and the Huntsman)’s charismatic Adam and the rest is . . . the movie of love, loss and classical music.

Blackley and Moretz have fantastic chemistry together and they really do make the characters stand out. I actually found myself caring for the little love birds not praying for their demise. Of course, they go through the ups and downs; the why me when you’re so cool and I’m so geeky spiel. The tests of college and flying the coop. Check, check, check. That is until the accident. That happens early on and the story flashes back and forth.

To be honest, the coma angle of the story didn’t really do much for me. The flicking back and forth just disrupted what was an easy going and watchable boy meets girl love story. It was just CGM wandering around aimlessly bar a few twists (which were ruined in the trailers). The last 15 minutes or so in which CGM finally stands still and listens to her friends and family as they prepare themselves for the worst case scenario, finally justifies itself by allowing for some endearing scenes (and yes everyone was crying. Apart from me, obviously).

Without spoiling too much, I couldn’t help but question the relevance of Aisha Hinds’ (Under the Dome) Nurse Ramirez preaching motivational speeches to a comatose patient. Ridiculously corny. Plus was she a spirit? As no one seemed to be paying attention to her too. Pointless in my opinion. Liano Liberto plays Mia’s best friend well and Stacey Keach delivers an emotionally sobering performance as Mia’s grief stricken grandfather.

The cello playing by whoever was CGM’s stand in was impeccable and the amount of classical music that was played in this. Unexpected but brilliant. Made a change to the usual indie/pop/teen soundtrack these films are normally flogging. The ending is a bit abrupt. It’s all built up and ponders the question which the film heavily suggests and then just ends.

The problem with these sort of coma pics; there are only ever two outcomes which makes it all a little predictable without divulging too much.

I was surprised at how quick this film disappeared from my cinema. It’s not without its imperfections but I have seen a lot worse. If it is still lingering around, give it a go. It won’t win merits for originality but cheesy, easy going, watchable guff all the same.

2.5/5 for me (might change it to a 3) depending on the next influx of weepies which there inevitably will be.