Phil's Recent Reviews
The film previously known as 'Ten' and 'Breacher' both of which make little sense...well 'Breacher' is Arnie's character but 'Ten'? because there are ten members in Arnie's team? nope there are nine. So the film was wisely renamed 'Sabotage' which also makes no real sense but I guess it sounds cool.
Yeah Arnie is back...again, and this time he's R rated! After some dismal post Governor flicks I was hoping for a return to the old days with Arnie and some proper ass kicking action drenched in bloody squibs. Alas this movie certainly has the blood and action (at times) but it feels empty forced and too self indulgent. I really get the impression director Ayer wanted to recreate that classic 'Predator' team of hardasses with Arnie as their leader...mainly because that's what it is. Arnie in charge of a crack team of special Ops DEA agents with more guns, muscles and tattoos than you can shake a stick at.
Oh my does this movie rehash that old hat idea that Mr James Cameron gave us many moons ago, you know what I mean, an elite team of foul mouthed cocky gun totting grunts. I've seen many films with ice cool teams of super mercs/soldiers/warriors, but I haven't seen a film try as hard as this one to force down our throats how butch these guys are. The profanity is constant and really unnecessary, each cast member really over acts in a cringing way, token black guy, token tough semi ugly female, each one has some kind of cliched visual gimmick to distinguish themselves from each other (facial hair, attire, tattoos etc...), each member has a silly code name or nickname ('Pyro' 'Grinder' 'Monster') and they are all pretty unlikable.
Manganiello's character is so extremely over the top and unstable you wonder how on earth he could ever function in a team like this. Did this character really need to wear black spiky leather biker gear, shades and have tattoos plus cornrows in his hair??! Its like the costume folk got over excited and just chucked a whole load of stereotypes into this one character to make him as 'badass' as possible. Instead he looks like a mish mash of ideas and quite idiotic...although not as much as Worthington's laughable facial hair.
This is a real problem in the film because you don't know who to get behind, these guys are suppose to be the main characters or heroes yet they are all shits. Going to strip bars...verbally assaulting the dancing girls, smashing glasses, getting loaded and high followed by attacking the security guys?! They're all very aggressive and don't have much compassion for anybody acting no better than the bad guys they are taking down. Now I realise you could say its showing the temptations, moral dilemmas and realistic possibilities of corruption in certain individuals under such circumstances but it really makes for a nasty sour team of 'heroes'. The only character with any sort of positive outlook or integrity is of course Arnie's leader character unsurprisingly, yet his actions bring about the downfall of his elite team! Its not until the end that you find out why Arnie does what he does and even then you're thinking wow! why didn't you just ask your team to help you instead of screwing them all over.
The other main issue with this film is the violence which, like the characters, is exaggerated and kinda repulsive really. Now lets get one thing straight here...I like my adult action flicks, I much prefer to see Arnie and the classic 80's action men in grown-up fare, but this film just gets it wrong. The whole angle here is realism, the film is trying to be a gritty 'Seven' type thriller with dark twists and turns. The problem is the gore and blood is lingered on far too much as if Ayer is just trying to show it off, they are glorifying it for the sake of it...which is fine if this were a silly graphic novel style action romp like 'Commando' but its not. The film is suppose to be soaked in dark realism yet innocent people are killed willy-nilly as if this were a videogame, Arnie's team get iced one by one very easily all things considered and in general society gets torn up like a Die Hard flick with no consequences. Basically in this type of movie less is more with the violence, but the fact the good guys aren't really too different from the bad guys and they all go around wreaking havoc...kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I won't deny I was intrigued to find out who did what and what was going on but overall it felt very downbeat and unexciting. Arnie does his best at serious acting (ahem!) but he still seems frosty after his leave of absence. End of the day this is just another larger than life, last man standing ensemble movie where Arnie merely chomps his cigars and attempts to blend in with the younger fitter cast. He looks the part but age has definitely caught up with Arnie I'm afraid. I just wish this special Ops DEA team had been more agreeable and the plot had gone a different more traditional route. May not have been very original sure but at least Arnie would be in familiar territory which is kinda where he works best really.
Well back in 1998 this entire premise seemed quite far fetched, virtually in the realms of fantasy by the kind of overly paranoid Yanks that stockpile guns and tinned food. Then unfortunately the unthinkable happened as America was indeed attacked and hit hard on their own turf with the dreadful September 11, 2001 terrorist suicide bombings of the World Trade Center in New York. It is only now that this film really does have a much darker meaning with the events of the movie disturbingly realistic when once thought of as hyper reality.
The story simply sees New York under threat from terrorists in random attacks across the city by an unknown force suspected to be Arabic. Its up to Denzel Washington and Tony Shalhoub to track down and stop the attackers before things get out of hand. Of course things do get way way out of hand as the attacks become more ferocious and the FBI's leads dwindle. In the end the military are drafted in as martial law is declared with Brooklyn locked down around the Arabic community.
Apart from the very real threat of terrorist attacks anywhere at anytime the films main focus is on racial profiling, hardcore stereotyping and prejudice. There is a strong morality tale between good and evil that not only covers the obvious but the use of Nazi-like tactics by American troops on Arabic/Muslim American citizens as they are rounded up and detained in mass makeshift holding areas. I really don't need to go into the obvious concentration camp connections here do I. But there is more as we also get Bruce Willis (badly miscast) as a Major General who is intent on getting information out of suspects in any way possible, illegally of course. Here you see the little twist of the Yanks being no better than the terrorists they are fighting, becoming what they fear and stand against, taking away the right to a court of law, innocent before proven guilty, liberty and justice, human rights go bye bye.
When the shit hits the fan and terror is taking control of the streets, power is granted to various officials, its then that we see the darker side of some people. Willis' character has the orders to basically protect his country and the American way of life by any means necessary, do what needs to be done whilst the upper echelons look the other way. Of course Washington's character stands firm and will not allow this kind of behaviour to carry on, there are still laws and rights. Gotta be honest though at times you do feel he is being too PC considering the circumstances, he's almost too heroic and saintly when in reality someone might buckle. The message is forced even more once Shalhoub's sons is also rounded up and taken away causing him to toss his badge. The message slaps you across the face sure but it works effectively.
This being a Washington movie you know its gonna be decent, you just know...and this doesn't disappoint. Visually its very slick and effective in getting across its now very realistic message. The only let down for me was probably Bening who didn't really fit her part in my opinion, she comes as someone more concerned about their hair looking right plus her plot setup with the Middle Eastern chap is too obvious really. Tension is reasonable but the film is a little too mainstream for you to actually start sweating over the outcome, its not like Washington is gonna bite the bullet is it, everyone else is fair game but not Denzel.
The ending is way too God bless America for my liking, although expected. Too neat and tidy as all the citizens are released with schmaltzy hugging scenes and Washington preaching about their forefathers and how they fought and died for the life they have today. He's right sure but it feels too much like an all American Boy Scout speech, you half expect the Star-Spangled Banner to kick off with fireworks in the sky.
As said its funny how back in 1998 this all seemed so unlikely, the notion that the US could be attacked on their own soil in such a devastating way. This whole martial law scenario and the rounding up of specific people was always possible but it still felt more like an old World War II flashback. These days the entire aspect has come true to a certain degree although not as bad as depicted in the film, its a much easier prospect to see becoming a reality within the US these days that's for sure. In the end the story boils down to the terrorists winning on a psychological level simple because the US way of life has been changed dramatically. Justice and democracy have gone out the window, fear and suspicion sits in its place.
Phil's Favorite Movies
The predator is the greatest alien created, Stan Winston is a genius, the best 80's, adrenaline, testosterone, muscle filled action man flick ever with one of the best character actor line ups since 'Con Air' plus the effects still look better than most modern films today! The Austrian Oaks best flick for me by far and possibly my all time favourite film. 'I ain't got time to bleed'.
Another Stan Winston creation with Cameron direction, genius. State of the badass art! this film rocks on every level, the only downer for me is the fact that you never really saw hords of aliens, some would say its more powerful that way but I think it would have been more tense and savage. Its still the perfect film with the perfect ensemble cast, amazing tension, fantastic hands on effects, realistic working sci-fi, dark, gritty...hell I don't even really need to go on about it, awesometastic sequel!