Sabotage (2014)

sabotage_5Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Kevin Vance, Mark Schlegel, Ned Yousef

Directed by David Ayer

Expectations: Low, but it’s Arnold, so I have hope.

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Sabotage does a couple of things right that every current Arnold movie should do. It almost immediately sets up Arnold as a total badass, capable of feats that would crush a normal man with ease. It also acknowledges his age. Not through jokes like The Last Stand, but through the respect given to him by his team. Arnold also seems to wear his many experiences on his haggard face. Sabotage also manages to set up Arnold in a couple of great situations that allow him to remind us why an entire generation of children grew up adoring him. But in almost every other way, Sabotage falls short. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an OK movie that entertains well enough, but it’s the kind of thing that you can’t think about too much without it all falling apart.

Take for instance the first scene. Arnold and his team of special DEA operatives storm a drug lord’s house and find an insane amount of money piled up in the basement. For reasons we aren’t privy to just yet, the team is taking some money off the top and placing it in the drainage system under the toilet for pick-up at a later date. Then Arnold attaches a huge explosive to the rest of the money, shoots it, and the whole stash goes up in a big whoosh of fire. Doesn’t seem like a traditional DEA move, but I’ve never worked in federal law enforcement so what the hell do I know? Anyway, this is followed by Arnold’s team being questioned about the $10 million missing dollars from the drug money stash, because apparently there was a parallel operation that had exact figures on the money there. Am I just being dense, or did they not just set fire to the money? Am I really supposed to believe that they counted every charred scrap of paper and somehow determined that exactly $10 million was missing? What the fuck?

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Magic Mike (2012)

magicmike-onesheetStarring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodríguez, Kevin Nash, Olivia Munn, Gabriel Iglesias

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

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The greatness of Magic Mike is not immediately apparent. On the surface, it’s something of modern, male stripper version of Boogie Nights, but to simply write it off as that is to miss the point of Magic Mike completely. Its power lies in its characterizations of Mike (Channing Tatum), Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), but I only really cracked it in the minutes following the film, as I tried to put into words what I liked about how screenwriter Reid Carolin and Steven Soderbergh had constructed the movie.

The surface story is your classic tale of a young kid being brought into the rich, alluring world of a moneymaking business where all his wild dreams can come true. You’ve seen it all before. This makes parts of Magic Mike predictable and somewhat obvious, but the film is really well-paced so you won’t mind so much, as long as you’re invested in the characters (and you love hot male action :)).

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