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Film / Sabotage (2014)

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I'll be back...for your drugs.

Sabotage is a 2014 thriller directed by David Ayer, and written by Ayer and Skip Woods.

John "Breacher" Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of an elite team of DEA agents, including James "Monster" Murray (Sam Worthington) and his wife Lizzy Murray (Mireille Enos), Joe "Grinder" Philips (a hulking, bison-like Joe Manganiello), Julius "Sugar" Edmonds (Terrence Howard), Eddie "Neck" Jordan (Josh Holloway) and Tom "Pyro" Roberts (Max Martini). The team comes under investigation for pilfering money from a bust on a drug cartel's safe house. Turns out they DID pilfer the money, but someone made off with it before they could retrieve it. As if the investigation and their own suspicions about each other weren't enough, they are now being killed off one by one, and Atlanta Police investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) is shining an additional light on the team's activities. Is it the cartel exacting their revenge, or is one of the team members the killer?

This film provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Lizzy when she is found out. She goes on a psychotic, drugged up killing spree with Sugar before being killed.
  • Accidental Public Confession: Lizzy admits she's been cheating on Monster with Sugar. As betrayed as Monster feels, Sugar is horrified that their affair was just revealed to the entire team.
  • Action Girl: Lizzy. Becomes a Dark Action Girl later on.
  • Agents Dating: During the course of the investigation, Breacher and Brentwood start to get close...a little too close.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone in Breacher's team, Breacher himself included.
  • The Atoner: Both Monster and Grinder meet privately with Brentwood to reveal the truth.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Grinder remarks that his life is basically over after he tells Brentwood the truth, because his career is doomed and he doesn’t know how to do anything else. He’s shot in the head immediately afterwards, so it’s rendered irrelevant.
  • Black-and-Black Morality: A squad of abrasive and corrupt DEA agents versus a mysterious and extremely violent party possibly connected with The Cartel. Breacher and his team would be A Lighter Shade of Black if they weren't their own opponents.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After Breacher admits to a mortally wounded Lizzy that he stole the money, he shoots her, evades Brentwood, and winds up in Mexico, where he bribes an official to finger the cartel member who killed Breacher's family. He tracks said killer to a dive bar and executes him, but is fatally wounded in the resulting shootout. The film ends with him enjoying a last drink and cigar as he bleeds to death.
  • Body in a Breadbox:Lizzie stabs Monster to death, then hides him in their refrigerator for Breaher and Brentwood to find.
  • Bond One-Liner: Grinder to Brentwood, as she arrives at the hideout of the Guatemalan hit squad Breacher's team just wiped out.
    "Cleanup on Aisle Three..."
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • Grinder gets his brains blown out by Lizzy.
    • Strangely averted with Breacher who she shoots in the bulletproof vest despite having a clear shot at him
  • Bottomless Magazines: He does reload at one point, but Breacher fires about twice as many rounds as his .45 has any right to hold in the final fight.
  • Cement Shoes: The Guatemalans were weighted down, wrapped in chicken wire to keep the bloat from making them pop up, but they get pulled up by a fisherman’s anchor.
  • Chained to a Railway: A rare male example, as Pyro wakes up to find his RV has been dragged into the path of an oncoming train with the RV locked and disabled, preventing Pyro from escaping as the train runs him over.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Brentwood, after they find Neck nailed to the ceiling.
  • Clueless Mystery: Right up until the Wham Line, there are no overt hints as to who's knocking off Breacher's team.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: About 90% of the main characters' dialogue sounds like a transcription of George Carlin stubbing his toe.
  • Cold Sniper: Husband-and-wife team Monster and Lizzy split the honors here. Includes Improbable Aiming Skills, and usually results in a Boom, Headshot!.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Pyro, whose RV is struck by a train. With him still inside.
    • Neck, who's disemboweled and hung from the ceiling of his house.
    • Monster, who is stabbed by Lizzy and then stuffed into a fridge.
    • Sugar, after the lengthy chase with Breacher and Brentwood crashes right into the BACK of a tow truck and is easily decapitated along with the innocent biker that he hit.
    • And especially Breacher's wife and son, whose torture and murder is videotaped and mailed to Breacher - along with a steady stream of their body parts.
  • Cut Apart: Tripod's death - it seems like Breacher and Brentwood show up at his house at the same time as a trio of gunmen, but it turns out that the gunmen got there much earlier than they did and killed Tripod.
  • Dark Action Girl: Lizzy
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Some Guatemalan hitters kill Tripod, but Lizzie and and possibly Sugar kill them and plant their DNA and fingerprints at Pyro's RV to throw the investigation off the track. It would have worked if the hitters hadn't been dredged up.
  • Dirty Harriet: Lizzy infiltrates the cartel safe house as a party girl.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Grinder.
  • Dwindling Party: To the point where the film seems like a horror movie.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Tripod was apparently a Navy SEAL. Breacher's entire team is allegedly an elite DEA unit, but you'd never know it to look at them.
  • Failed a Spot Check: None of Breacher's highly-trained DEA team realized that the one Mexican police officer not wearing a helmet or balaclava might be someone to watch, since officers need to do that to hide their identities or risk Cartel retribution. At the end of the film somehow in the middle of Mexico a bunch of cartel guards didn’t manage to spot the giant Austrian man until it was way too late, although it's admittedly in a dark bar and he’s dressed to blend in.
  • Fake Irish: An implied in-universe example. Lizzy owns a (presumably fake) Irish passport. She plans on using it to flee the States but Monster shreds it and in a rage she murders him.
  • Fiery Redhead: Lizzy.
  • Functional Addict: Lizzie. About to lead the team through a live-fire refresher drill, Breacher realizes that she's high. She, in turn, assures him that she can still perform her job without endangering the rest of the team.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Lizzie does this to ascertain the contents of some jugs of pure liquid meth found during a raid. A bit more justified than usual however, in that the team freak right the hell out when she does this, and she's a Functional Addict anyway.
  • Gorn: The film goes out of its way to show the mangled remains of Breacher's dead team members.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The film, surprisingly, does not show Sugar's mangled body after he got in a messy car crash.
  • He Knows Too Much: The team captured a high-level drug lord in Juarez and was about to turn him over to the Mexican federal police. Then a Cartel hitter dressed as one of the Mexicans shot the guy in the head to prevent the man from talking.
  • The Hero Dies: Breacher at the end.
  • Heroic BSoD: Brentwood has a brief Freak Out after finding out Breacher stole the money that lasts just long enough for him to disappear.
  • I Was Never Here: Inverted example. The man Breacher bribes makes it very clear to him that the official story is they never met.
  • Jerkass: Breacher's entire team. Even Breacher himself tends to act like a callous Deadpan Snarker whenever he's around Brentwood, the one person trying to help him and his team.
  • Large Ham: Mireille Enos's strategy playing such an Ax-Crazy character as Lizzy hinges on chewing any scenery not shredded by gunfire or explosions.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: After being under investigation - and "on the beach" - for months, the team is ecstatic that they can finally suit up for another mission.
  • More Dakka: The raid on the safe house is momentarily derailed when a cartel Mook starts shooting at the team. Through a wall. With a belt-fed machine gun.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Lizzy abandons her husband Monster, runs off with Sugar, then ends up killing Monster.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A particularly egregious example. The story suggested by the trailer is often miles away from the actual film's plot, and new lines of dialog are actually looped in to perpetuate the fraud.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Brentwood takes her eyes off Breacher for only a few seconds at the end of the movie, which leads to his escape.
  • Nominal Hero:
    • Breacher is a spec ops DEA agent who's willing to steal millions of dollars from crime scenes ( and from his own squad), but is haunted by his own demons stemming from the death of his wife and child. Compared to the film's villains, he's A Lighter Shade of Black; compared to the rest of the cast...
    • Breacher's team as a whole qualifies; in fact, all of the team's mysterious tormentors come from within their own ranks, including Breacher himself.
  • Off with His Head!: Sugar's inferred demise after his getaway car slams into the back of a tow truck.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
  • One Last Smoke: Mortally wounded in a Mexican dive bar, Breacher enjoys a last drink and a cigar before bleeding to death.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the squad. Only Breacher and Lizzy are regularly referred to by their real names.
  • Perp Sweating: The interrogations the team underwent. Seems like the DEA figured the best way to get Breacher's team to confess was to yell at them and taunt them.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The shootout in the Mexican bar.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Despite Breacher's claim that his team are some of the best undercover operatives around, when they aren't on a raid, they mostly party, brawl, and rag on each other.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The team, with a side of Kicked Upstairs for Breacher. It's implied that the DEA was trying to get them to either quit or confess.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Almost immediately after confessing to Brentwood that they did steal the money, Grinder takes a bullet to the head.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Subverted. The team comes to the conclusion that one of their own is killing them off, and Grinder promises to kill any of the others if he sees them before riding off. The next scene is him spilling the beans to Brentwood, and right after that he apologizes to Breacher.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Breacher's team's opinion of Brentwood. Includes an attempted Break the Haughty moment when Brentwood walks in on the squad partying, and Grinder menacingly demands she have a beer with them. Unfazed, Brentwood's response is to shake the bottle and spray Grinder with beer.
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: Happens to Brentwood when she arrives at Breacher's house to get a statement from a team member. She's not dressed in anything resembling a police uniform, so it seems like the gang are mocking her just to be dicks. Then, of course, a real stripper arrives just as she is leaving.