Thriller turns slasher flick

Thriller turns slasher flick

Review Action-thriller

SABOTAGE (rating to be confirmed)

109 minutes/Opens today / *½

The story: Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of a Drug Enforcement Agency special ops team, which includes Monster (Sam Worthington) and his wife Lizzy (Mireille Enos), Grinder (Joe Manganiello), Sugar (Terrence Howard) and Neck (Josh Holloway). During a raid, they squirrel away US$10 million (S$12.5 million) for themselves but the money goes missing when they return for it. And then the members of the team start getting killed one after another in horrific ways.

This is quite a gathering of one-time stars.

There is Holloway from television's Lost, Oscar-nominated Howard from indie drama Hustle & Flow (2005) and yesterday's It Guy, and Worthington (Avatar, 2009). Then there is the granddaddy of them all, beefcake action star- turned-politician-turned-ageing action veteran Schwarzenegger.

They were all probably hoping to revive their sagging fortunes with this film - a la The Expendables franchise for has-been actions stars - but they might have just sabotaged themselves instead.

Writer-director David Ayer (End Of Watch, 2012) sets up the premise of the missing money at the start and then proceeds to abandon that in favour of a mystery-slasher flick as people start dropping like flies.

The tableaux of gruesome scenes feel like rejects from more elaborately stomach-turning murders on TV shows such as Hannibal, Dexter and True Detective.

Meanwhile, the survivors go all macho and aggressive in their posturing, with Enos (World War Z, 2013) possibly being the craziest of the lot.

More semi-famous names pop up as investigators as Olivia Williams (Dollhouse, 2009-2010) and Harold Perrineau (Oz, 1997-2003) look into the deaths. Jarringly, Williams' character has a fling with Arnie's Breacher.

By the time the movie reaches its perfunctory chase-scene ending, everyone is behaving like idiotic amateurs instead of the top special ops agents they are supposed to be. Motivations are revealed and masks stripped away as revelations tumble out to no particularly compelling effect.

The last few minutes wrap up the film in indecent haste as vengeance is finally exacted. It is the final act of self-sabotage.

This article was published on April 9 in The Straits Times.

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