Director: David Ayer
With any movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger you can always guarantee assurance. We, as the audience, are assured of an all-round, entertaining movie with fights, guns and explosions. After all, it’s an Arnie film, isn’t it? Such is that with Sabotage that it plays to the many strengths of Mr. Schwarzenegger. There are no signs of any Oscar winning performances at all, but there are guns and lots of them.
Arnold plays John “Breacher” Wharton, a maverick who heads up the DEA special tasks force given the job of taking out drug cartels and getting something back in return. During one particular raid, they uncover a pile of money and put aside €10million of that for themselves which they stash in plastic bags and quite unceremoniously plunge down the pipe from the toilet into the sewers. After the last of the bad guys are wiped out, the team head into the pipes to retrieve the money only to find out that it’s no longer there. To add to their woes, it seems the drugs cartel whom they thought they wiped out are aware they stole the money and slowly start picking off each member of the team one by one.
David Ayer, of Harsh Times and Street Kings fame, has handled and controlled a script that he co-wrote and directed it much in a similar vain to his previous work and you cannot criticise him for that as it works. The script, at times, can be up and down with dialogue often written for the sheer hell of it as each knuckle-headed member of Arnie’s task force has to have their say and get as many “muthafuckers” in as possible. Ayer’s co-written script has that roller coaster effect of starting well and then dipping somewhat as the story begins to struggle for pace, but then, unexpectedly, the final third rockets us upwards and we’re fired at speed through twists and turns as the story starts to pan out and what we are left with can be described as enjoyable and worth the wait.
One of the highlights of Sabotage is the appearance of an almost unrecognisable Sam Worthington, of Avatar fame, who sports shaven head (complete with tattoos) and a tiny goatee beard (complete with plait). Worthington looked to somewhat enjoy his portrayal of his character “Monster”, but there was clear evidence of his acting abilities as well as his rugged action feature to go with it. His wife, the drug riddled Lizzy, played by World War Z’s Mireille Enos showed signs of potential, but occasionally consisted of some over-the top acting that just needed reeling in slightly. Terence Howard supports with extra muscle from Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway and Kevin Vance. Olivia Williams (Hyde Park on Hudson & The Sixth Sense) is the detective assigned to work the case who ends up working alongside “Breacher”
When Arnold Schwarzenegger opted to take a break from movies to concentrate on his political career there was a void left in all of our action-loving hearts and since returning, despite the difficulties in succeeding the popularity of his 1980’s hits, we all agree that he has been missed.
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Interestingly enough, Director Chad Stahelski first started his career in Hollywood as a Stuntman. His first role being Keanu Reeves stunt double in the 1991 hit Point Break and eight years later working with Reeves again in The Matrix. This is his first foray into life as a Director and who better to star as his lead than the man that he has been several times during his career.
Reeves plays the title role of John Wick, an ex hitman who has retired after meeting and subsequently marrying the woman of his dreams, but the story starts on a sad note with the funeral of John Wick’s wife leading up to the inevitable grief that Wick struggles to deal with. One evening there is a knock at the door and a package is delivered to his house containing a small dog, a parting gift left by his wife to help him in his grieving process. One day, whilst filling up his Mustang at a petrol station, Wick gains the unwanted attention of some locals who enquire about purchasing the car from him which he informs them is not for sale. Later that evening, Wick’s house is broken into. He is beaten, his car is stolen and his dog is killed leaving him no choice but to come out of retirement to seek revenge. John Wick is known by a lot of people in the criminal underworld as a person that you don’t mess with and when crime lord Viggo Tarasov (Nyqvist) finds out that his son, Iosef (Pop Star Lilly Allen’s’ younger brother, Alfie) is the one responsible, he fears the worst and the worst is about to happen.
As far as Directorial debuts go, this is one of the best there has been. Chad Stahelski has honed and crafted a work of pure genius. The sombre mood of the piece is often played out in a dark contrast with the inclusion of blue/green colouring to give it an air of mystique. It is the ream of stunning visuals that bring out the cinematography of the movie painting a vivid backdrop for our lead to play against.
Reeves is one of the few actors with brooding intensity that he often doesn’t need to speak at all to create the impeccable role. He is perfect for this part and very believable as a man you wouldn’t want to mess with. Many stars pop up during the course of the movie such as Ian McShane, Willem Defoe and John Leguizamo. The storyline is one that has been played over and over before, but the beauty of Derek Kolstad’s script is that it has its own unique method to it. Chad Stahleski’s stunt experience plays heavily in the influence of the movie with very quick, well-choreographed fight scenes played out beautifully by the cast keeping the storyline fast paced.
This is also Kolstad’s first major screenplay and with the recent announcement of a sequel, the trio are looking to be reunited once again.