Open Road Films via Everett Collection
David Ayer's Sabotage is just the latest stop in Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback tour, though it probably won't do the actor too many favors. Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force that specializes in taking down drug cartels. Each member of the team is a blunt instrument drunk off of their alpha male (and female) machismo, but to be fair, they are damn good at what they do. They're masters at going in hard, killing whoever needs killing, and heading to the strip club and drinking themselves into a stupor before the next round of street sweeping. Unfortunately, it turns out years of busting cartel bosses and being deeply unpleasant to everyone you come into contact with eventually catches up to you, and members of the squad start dying in ghastly and elaborate ways. And just like that, we have what basically amounts to an Agatha Christie novel with a gym membership and a pile of meth.
Unfortunately, and as expected, giving Agatha Christie a couple of reps at the gym and a pile of drugs turns her into a blithering idiot, because Sabotage is incredibly stupid. The central mystery somehow manages to be both preposterous and predictable at the same time. The film's one saving grace is its action. The action scenes are adrenal and exciting and unbelievably gory. Bloated corpses are poked and prodded, viscera hangs like ropes from a rafter. This film takes immense pleasure in being completely disgusting. It’s downright gleeful about it. Here's a full shot of a soiled toilet, just because. Here's a piece of skin hanging on some metal, why not. Isn't that cool?
While Sabotage does manage to thrill in spurts and stutters, there's absolutely nothing beating at the heart of the film. All of the main characters are completely and utterly repugnant, and you'll pity anyone who has to endure their company throughout the film. When characters do start to die, you won't feel all that broken up about it. In fact, you may even feel a twinge of joy, like the earth was suddenly unburdened from a pure source of rampant douchebaggery. Just imagine the most disgusting, and off-putting person you can, and then give them a gun, a badge, and a fierce sense of entitlement, and you have every single member of the film's DEA squad. They're all terrible.
And if that weren't bad enough, the acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. The usually wonderful Olivia Williams and the capable Sam Worthington continually forget which continent they're on, their accents dropping in an out like a bad radio connection; Schwarzenneger has a complete inability to emote anything apropos of the situation at hand. When looking upon a pile of ooze that was formerly in the shape of one of his best friends, his disappointment is more akin to seeing a temporarily occupied gym bench on chest day. All of the charm the actor showcased in something like the recent Escape Plan is washed out by Breacher's moping about his dark past, and when Schwarzenneger isn't allowed to be fun, then he's completely boring.
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Really, I should hate Sabotage. It’s a completely stupid and mean spirited film, but there’s a strange charm to the depravity of it all. There's an audaciousness to it. The film goes as far as it can to push limits, and succeeds at being appaling. It’s a film that knows how stupid and ugly it is and champions that fact. It’s playing in its own filth, and as gross as that is, at least it’s having fun. This is the kind of film that will be in heavy rotation at the local frat house. That’s doesn’t mean the film is good or even okay, but if you like watching horrific violence, awful mysteries, and awful people being awful, then boy do I have a film for you.
With the box office down for a solid month, the marketplace got a much needed boost with the debut of a couple of very strong newcomers from Sony Pictures:
1. Hotel Transylvania - $43.0 million
2. Looper - $21.2 million
3. End Of Watch - $8.0 million (a two week total of $25.9 million)
4. Trouble With The Curve - $7.5 million (a two week total of $23.7 million)
5.House at the End of the Street - $7.15 million (a two week total of $22.2 million)
First up is Sony Pictures Animation’s PG-rated Hotel Transylvania in 3D featuring the voice talents of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry costars Adam Sandler and Kevin James. The two reunite in this spooky and fun tale of a high-end resort operated by Count Dracula (Sandler) that is discovered by a human boy who falls in love with the Count’s daughter. Featuring an amazing ensemble voice cast including Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, CeeLo Green, David Spade and Molly Shannon among others, the film took a $43 million record-breaking bite out of the box office in 3,349 theaters this weekend. This easily beat 2002's Sweet Home Alabama which held the September debut record for about a decade with its $35.65 million debut.
Notably and significantly Sony Pictures also regains the North American market share lead and becomes the #1 studio year to date in terms of total box office with $1,284.7 million through Sunday. Additionally, with Hotel Transylvania, Sony Pictures has released its 8th #1 film of the year. Other #1 films included Underworld Awakening, The Vow, 21 Jump Street, Think Like A Man, Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spider-Man and Resident Evil: Retribution. With the next James Bond film Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty in the pipeline, the studio is on track for its biggest worldwide year ever!
With the family audience taken care of, Sony offered adults a completely different experience with the R-rated time travel hit man movie Looper, starring the ubiquitous and red hot Joseph Gordon-Levitt and action mainstay Bruce Willis. The super-stylized, hyper-kinetic and visually stunning film is the vision of Rian Johnson who also directed Levitt in the modern crime noir story Brick and also the unique caper-comedy The Brother’s Bloom. A sort of Terminator-meets-Blade Runner with the mind-bending qualities of Inception, the film has enough gunplay and ass-whuppin’s to satisfy the die-hard action fans and enough pathos and rabbit hole logic to satiate the intellectuals in the audience. A $21.2 million gross in 2,992 theaters landed this kick ass action flick in a strong second place finish and a long run in theaters bolstered by the expected terrific ongoing word-of-mouth.
Open Road’s End of Watch debuted last weekend at number one after a hotly contested race for the top spot with Relativity’s horror entry House at the End of the Street. This week it takes the third spot. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michel Pena as two cops targeted for elimination after busting some seriously bad members of a drug cartel. David Ayer who is the king of the intense cop movie having written the classic Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and as the writer/director of Harsh Times and Street Kings, delivers big time with this arresting R-rated drama. A second weekend with $8.0 million gives it a $26.2M two week total by Sunday night.
This puts Clint Eastwood in the baseball drama Trouble With the Curve from Warner Bros. in fourth place with $7.53 million. The film opened in third place last weekend with everyone analyzing what effect Eastwood’s highly debated empty chair RNC speech may have had on the film’s box office performance. No matter since the PG-13 rated film will have $23.7 million by the end of this, its second weekend at bat.
Relativity’s PG-13 horror flick House at the End of the Street, starring The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence, earned $7.15 million this weekend and has earned $22.2 million to date against a much lower than average (for the horror genre) second weekend drop of 42%.
Opening outside of the top 5, Twentieth Century Fox’s PG-rated drama Won’t Back Down, starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as two mothers who are determined to make a change for the better at their kid’s inner city school, was only able to rally the people for $2.7 million.
With its official wide opening set for next weekend, Universal's limited release of Pitch Perfect has already impressed. Opening this weekend in just 335 theaters, the film grossed 5.2 million good enough for sixth place. The film goes wide this Friday.
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
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With the box office down for a solid month, the marketplace will get a much needed boost with the debut of a couple of very strong newcomers from Sony Pictures.
First up with an expected number one debut is Columbia Pictures Animation’s PG-rated Hotel Transylvania in 3-D featuring the voice talents of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry co-stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James. The two reunite in this spooky and fun tale of a high-end resort operated by Count Dracula (Sandler) that is discovered by a human boy who falls in love with the Count’s daughter. Featuring an amazing ensemble voice cast including Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, CeeLo Green, David Spade and Molly Shannon among others, the film is set to take a nice $30 million (or even higher) bite out of the box office in 3,349 theaters this weekend. The film is a TriStar, FilmDistrict and Endgame Entertainment production
With the family audience taken care of, Sony will offer adults a completely different experience with the very R-rated time travel hitman movie Looper starring the ubiquitous and red hot Joseph Gordon-Levitt and action mainstay Bruce Willis. The super-stylized, hyper-kinetic and visually stunning film is the vision of Rian Johnson who also directed Levitt in the modern crime noir story Brick and also the unique caper-comedy The Brother’s Bloom. Sort of like The Terminator with the mind-bending qualities of Inception, the film has enough gunplay and ass-whuppin’s to satisfy the die-hard action fans and enough pathos and rabbit hole logic to satiate the intellectuals in the audience. A probable high teen to low 20’s gross in 2,992 theaters will land this kick ass action flick in a strong second place finish and a long run in theaters bolstered by the expected terrific ongoing word-of-mouth.
Open Road’s End of Watch debuted last weekend at number one after a hotly contested race for the top spot with Relativity’s horror entry House at the End of the Street and will likely land in third this weekend on the heels of midweek domination of the box office chart. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michel Pena as two cops targeted for elimination after busting some seriously bad members of a drug cartel. David Ayer who is the king of the intense cop movie having written the classic Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and as the writer/director of Harsh Times and Street Kings, delivers big time with this arresting R-rated drama. A second weekend in the $8 million range should give it a third place finish and around $25 million in bail money by Sunday night.
This should put Clint Eastwood in the baseball drama Trouble With the Curve from Warner Bros. in fourth place with around $7 million. The film opened in third place last weekend with everyone analyzing what effect Eastwood’s highly debated empty chair RNC speech may have had on the film’s box office performance. No matter since the PG-13 rated film should have over $20 million by the end of this, its second weekend at bat.
Twentieth Century Fox’s PG-rated drama Won’t Back Down stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as two mothers who are determined to make a change for the better at their kid’s inner city school. A debut of around $5 million will have it in a race for fifth place with Relativity’s PG-13 horror flick House at the End of the Street starring The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence.
The box office has been hurting for weeks and this will be the weekend that turns that around with the expected strong debuts of the top two films. Let’s hope the momentum continues beyond this weekend and leads us into a solid late Fall/Holiday period at the nation’s theaters. Next up to carry on this strength will be Liam Neeson in the follow up to the hugely popular action drama Taken in Twentieth Century Fox’s Taken 2 and the first wide expansion of Universal’s musical comedy Pitch Perfect which opens this weekend in just 335 theaters.
The cop genre can be a little tired but few have explored it as thoroughly as David Ayer. Ayer wrote the modern crooked cop movie Training Day with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and he's written and directed a handful of other cop dramas based in South Central Los Angeles. Ayer's latest End of Watch has some of the same tropes at his previous movies — crookedness in the force the bond between two partners the push and pull between family and career — but our protagonists' biggest test is the street itself not each other.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are partners and best friends who sling racist insults at each other as often as they pledge their loyalty. As Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Peña) they are instantly likeable; they're goofy foul-mouthed brothers who are on the beat in South Central LA. They're definitely not always above board and they're a little smug about a recent bust; they want to find another big catch but when they do it lands them in the middle of a turf war and something way bigger than they could have anticipated. It's ugly it's graphic and it is in some ways a bit salacious in its portrayal of the violence most of us merely read about in the papers.
The conceit that Ayer uses to bring the viewer in close is that Brian is filming their work for a filmmaking class he's taking. Besides the dubious legality there are plenty of times when it's impossible for Brian to be filming so Ayers only uses this device when it's most convenient. At other times the camera moves to a typical third-person POV or even as if we were looking at footage from the in-car camera of a police chase. The most unbelievable aspect of the handheld camera is when the gangsters they're after are filming themselves at parties or on drive-bys. While it's interesting and effective insofar as it brings us up right into the action it's just not logical. At one point Ayer even uses night vision for a suddenly and weirdly introduced enemy. On one hand the use of Brian's footage (and how much it ticks off his fellow cops) is quite effective but on the other it's simply illogical. We're supposed to believe that this is indicative of Brian's goals his desire to grow past the life of an officer on the beat and start a family and all that but at the same time there's not much backing that idea up. Although the family angle comes in later it doesn't seem likely that Brian will give up life with his partner without a big push in another direction.
Ayer deftly switches between the violence of the job and the cops' intimate conversations in their car their regular off-duty lives and the bravado among officers jockeying for position on the force. The type of events Brian and Mike encounter can be stomach-turning; even the cops turn away before the camera offers the audience a look at what they've encountered. It's shocking at times and graphic in a way that's different than a horror movie or a shoot-'em-up like The Expendables 2. It sticks with you after the credits have rolled.
End of Watch also grabs you emotionally although sometimes it is a bit too on the nose. There are more than enough scenes where characters get drunk and mournful about the lifespan or lifestyle of a cop. Brian who is a bit of a womanizer finally meets a woman he can't believe would go for a cop Janet (Anna Kendrick). Kendrick isn't given a lot to do but when she's onscreen she brings some levity to this grim business. Mike's wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) also has quite a few zingers although her screen time is even less than Kendrick's.
There aren't many other notable female characters. It's great to see America Ferrera play against her Traveling Pants type as a police officer who comes from the neighborhood and knows the people she's up against. Although the butch lesbian cop is played-out Ferrera does a good job bringing Orozco to life. There's also a hint that she was once romantically involved with the female leader of the Latin gang that's taking over South Central. The various gang members and other people the cops meet on their beat are fairly flat too; they're just the bogeymen and women who haunt cops on the streets and in their nightmares. There are some references about a street code and the changing gangs of South Central but it's more of a plot device than anything else.
In the end though this isn't a sociological study; this is a portrait of a friendship. End of Watch has a lot to offer for fans of the genre especially if they've got their Kleenex at the ready.
Deadline.com reports that David Ayer, writer of the Denzel Washington/Ethan Hawke cop thriller Training Day, has been hired by Universal to pen the screenplay for the studio's Scarface update. The project is said to be a contemporized version of the Scarface story, which has appeared on the big screen in two iterations, the more famous of which is Brian De Palma's 1983 version starring Al Pacino as a Cuban immigrant-turned-rapacious gangster-turned-bullet-riddled corpse.
David Ayer recently completed shooting End of Watch, stars Jake Gyllenhaal. Click below for more images of the Source Code star:
In March 1991 TV stations repeatedly broadcast an amateur videotape of LAPD officers kicking and clubbing Rodney King an unarmed black man. A year later an all-white jury acquitted three officers involved in the beating inciting a riot that killed 54 people and destroyed much of South Central Los Angeles. Dark Blue is a gritty police drama that unfolds in the four days leading up to the verdict. The story revolves around veteran cop Eldon Perry Jr. (Kurt Russell) who does what he needs to do to bring someone to justice even if it means planting a gun--or drugs--on a suspect. But police intimidation and corruption doesn't sit right with his rookie partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman). Their ideologies clash when the two are assigned to a high-profile quadruple homicide and receive orders from a high-ranking member of the LAPD to pin the crime on innocent suspects in order to appease the public. Keough contemplates going to Deputy Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) the only black man in the department about unfair police practices but is worried about going up against such a tight brotherhood. This cop flick is disturbingly realistic--which unfortunately is also its weakness. It tells us what we already know: that the history of the LAPD is meshed tightly with racism and corruption.
Dark Blue's Perry is a vulgar hard-drinking and unscrupulous cop--and Russell (3 000 Miles to Graceland) does a great job embodying the character. He swears knocks back drinks and smokes cigarettes like he's been doing this since birth. In fact Russell creates such a despicable character that I hoped he would get his ass kicked by rioters. As his naïve partner Keough Speedman (Duets) is a little bland. Keough redeems himself by rising above the police department's practices but Speedman's character is almost too nice and fresh-faced to be a cop in a city like L.A. As Deputy Chief Holland Rhames (Undisputed) is well cast but unfortunately the character is so one-dimensional that he doesn't make for a very passionate hero. The problem here is not the acting but the film's characters which are too simply drawn. Keough for example is not only unprejudiced he's politically correct--he has a black girlfriend and gets offended when his big bad partner uses the "n" word. And Holland is not only honorable he's a churchgoing community leader. It's not that these characteristics are bad but they are certainly tautological and stereotypical by movie standards.
If this movie sounds a lot like Training Day it's because scribe David Ayer wrote both of them. Unfortunately Dark Blue's characters are drawn with such a heavy hand they reek of clichés and are a far cry from Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke's complicated and well-developed characters in Training Day. Director Ron Shelton found success with the 1988 hit Bull Durham and--with the 1994 sports drama Cobb--proved that he could deliver character-driven movies that were well worth watching. Despite the rigid characters he manages to deliver a straight-up dirty-cop movie that effectively mirrors the LAPD. (Is Holland for example the film's take on former LAPD Chief of Police Bernard Parks?) Shelton achieves the film's true-to-life feel by leaving out slick car chases explosions and shootouts and paying closer attention to sets such as Perry's unadorned house and the clunker he drives. There are some great scenes towards the end of the film when Perry is driving through South Central as the riots--which caused an estimated $900 million in damages--break out. What's even more chilling however is the lack of LAPD presence at the riot epicenter.
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) has one day and one day only to prove himself to his new partner Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) a 13-year vet of the LAPD narcotics division. Harris' years of hardcore experience on Los Angeles' meanest streets though have turned him into the same sort of criminal he's supposed to be putting away. At first it seems Harris intends to teach Hoyt his own brand of justice: that in order to catch the big fish sometimes officers must throw the smaller ones back. But as the hours slip away Hoyt learns just how bad his badass partner really is--Harris starts out as a taunting joker who just wants to give Hoyt a hard time but by nightfall he's turned into a full-blown monster bent on saving his own skin no matter what.
This two-man show is really a one-man show. It's Washington's game all the way as he bursts the almost priestly bubble of do-goodness that has surrounded him like a halo for most of his career with a sudden murderous burst of gunfire. In Day he is larger than life; clad in black leather and huge jewelry he towers both physically and psychologically over a scrawny goateed Hawke (looking like he just walked off the Reality Bites set) who tries valiantly to keep up with his Oscar-winning co-star. It's not that a perfectly wet-behind-the-ears Hawke doesn't adequately carry off the acting required for the situation he's in but really we're supposed to believe he hold his own in a fistfight-turned-deathmatch against guys more than twice his size? For his part Washington chews the scenery like it was his last meal as Alonzo goes from bad to worse but he sure makes it look fun.
Director Antoine Fuqua (Bait) used to direct music videos for artists like Coolio and it shows. Love the cool camera angles the warped POV shots the primary colors and raw soundtrack. And Fuqua's not afraid to show the L.A. streets at their worst. The first two-thirds are masterful work in character study as the line between good and evil becomes increasingly blurred. But by the final third the plot disintegrates getting hacky and waaayy contrived especially the "Hey! It just so happens..." coinky-dinks and a laughable ending that falls flat as a pancake and panders to an urban audience almost to the point of patronization. Most of this movie is so over-the-top it would be unwatchable were it not for its charismatic lead.