Runtime: 109 Mins
What To Expect: Dull whodunnit where thoughts wander to other things in life
We can categorize Arnold’s movies. At the top you have classics like The Terminator and Predator, near the top you have very good movies like True Lies and Eraser. At the bottom you have worthless shit like Junior and Batman & Robin, near the bottom, you have mediocre movies like The 6th Day… and Sabotage. In an attempt to come back to movies all serious and what have you, considering his larger than life roles are less in fashion these days, Arnold picked the right guy with David Ayer. But he picked the wrong movie. This is a boring outing, very few of us will return to it more than once or twice.
Schwarzenegger leads a team of elite DEA agents and at the beginning of the movie, they launch a dirty raid on dirty money, which then goes missing. Throughout the movie as Schwarzenegger’s team get picked off, the story then asks, who did it and why. By the time it finishes, there are of course twists here and there. The whole thing though feels underdeveloped, the big events happen to near-nameless faces, so who gives a damn? There’s few ways to describe the characters other than two dimensional. Okay, so that’s hardly a first for an Arnie movie, but this is supposed to be picture of substance. You can get away with 2D characters in a movie like Raw Dead, but not in a story-driven thriller that wants to walk in the same footsteps as the likes of Cop Land.
One of my biggest gripes with this movie is that Arnold’s crew won’t go down as one of the classics like Apone’s crew, Dutch’s crew or The Expendables, or even the McCauley gang from Heat. Rather, they come across as a bunch of easily forgettable noisy pests. Like in an earlier draft of the screenplay reviewed by ManlyMovie, a problem that hasn’t gone away in the final movie is that it’s almost like Ayer is trying too hard to make his characters gritty badasses. The character of Lizzy Murray (Mireille Enos), wife of Monster (Sam Worthington), is particularly overcooked. Count me out as one of the people who laughed at any of their dick jokes or pointless screaming. Near the start, there are two fart jokes inside ten minutes. Man… why?
Then there’s Arnold. A man who can make or break a movie for sure. Not here. He’s miscast, fact. Even if the movie was good and well written, it was not guaranteed to be a deal that would work for him. Harvey Keite maybe, but not Arnold. His character is flat and disengaging and he struggles to make it work. Worse is the ending, exchanged from a darker ending that was thrown out, it feels disconnected from the rest of the movie. Nevertheless, he’s one of only two good things about the movie – it’s good to see Arnold even when he’s in the wrong movie. The other thing, typical of an Ayer movie, expect very solid gun work. Every shot resonates, no discharge is worthless and each gunshot wound is a work of a careful craftsman. No, you’re not going to find CGI in a movie like this.
Bottom line. It doesn’t work. It should’ve been Arnold’s Cop Land. Instead it’s mediocre and it just about avoids slipping into ‘bad movie’ territory. Arnold can’t afford duds like this at this stage in his career.