Maybe you've noticed the posters on the subway recently. Arnold Schwarzenegger, hidden under a DEA cap and goggles, looking like a roided-up Paul Newman, flanked by one of the most intriguing casts you ever saw for a gritty cop drama. Sam Worthington, five years out of Avatar, sure. Beefcake heart-throb Joe Manganiello, fine. But wait…is that Olivia Williams? Mireille Enos from The Killing? Josh Holloway from Lost? Terrence Howard?
Watch the trailer, and the questions really begin to pile up. Why does Sam Worthington look like an overweight extra from Buckwild? Why does Terrence Howard get fourth billing, behind Olivia Williams? And who was her dialect coach, Foghorn Leghorn? Is Josh Holloway in this movie or not? Do audiences realize that saying "from the writer of Training Day and the director of End of Watch" is just saying that the movie was written and directed by David Ayer? Why is this hunt-the-mole betrayal drama called Sabotage? Then you watch the red-band trailer.
Seriously, watch this whole thing. I'll wait.
Is this going to be the best film released in 2014? If you judge films by how many people get shot in the head with remarkable ease, Sabotage may well be the pinnacle of American cinema. The same applies if you judge films by the amount of unnecessary facial hair its cast is sporting. (Also, spoiler alert: from the looks of this trailer, Josh Holloway bites it early, a role he's reprising from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Most importantly, Enos is making a big play for a Supporting Actress Oscar trophy this year. Every line she utters in this trailer is white-trash dynamite.
Now, let's look at the characters' nicknames, cause everyone's got one. Breacher. Monster. Sugar. Grinder. Neck. Pyro. Investigator Caroline Brentwood (okay, that one's just Olivia Williams' name, so I'm gonna call her Gutstorm). This is exquisite nonsense.
THEN you read this article and things get even more confusing. Wait, this film is an Agatha Christie adaptation? It barely has anything to do with what's going on in the trailer? The backstory is dealt with in ten minutes? Is there a whole OTHER MOVIE to look forward to?
David Ayer made his directorial debut in 2005 with Harsh Times and has improved with every subsequent effort. 2008's Street Kings was stupid fun; 2012's End of Watch was surprisingly smart and well-acted. Sabotage does not appear to be going for smart. It's making a play for "perennial Cinemax favorite." This is not a film that's going to thrive at the box office (maybe in Estonia, but not here up against Divergent and Noah). Arnold Schwarzenegger's strange career revival (where he appears in any project he's offered money for) will continue its slow, rocky climb to relevance. But I'll be in theaters for Sabotage's opening weekend, and you should all be joining me.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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