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Daily Pilot

Reel Critics: This film deserves a recall vote

1:16 PM PDT, April 3, 2014

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Director David Ayer is known for his ultraviolent police epics like "Training Day" and "End of Watch." Screenwriter Skip Woods ("A Good Day to Die Hard") is also no stranger to action movies with a high body count. These two masters of death and treachery join up with an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger to create a new cop thriller with lots of blood and guts.

"Sabotage" has a subdued Arnold playing the legendary leader of a team of undercover DEA agents. As the strong but quiet godfather of the operation, he puffs his cigar while the younger actors do the stunt work. The team rips off a Mexican drug cartel for $10 million. Soon after, members of the team start getting killed off in increasingly brutal fashion.

This heavy R-rated plot proceeds to graphically depict the torture, murder and disembowelment of several people. Ayer misses no cinematic opportunity to blow out a person's brains or stab, slice and dice their bodies. The camera lingers on more than one pile of human intestines, making this film a candidate for the gore porn genre. The whole enterprise is a sad and sorry undertaking for a wealthy man who was the governor of America's most populous state.

—John Depko

*

A few leaks in 'Noah's' ark

Thanks to director Darren Aronofsky, "Noah" is an action hero as well as Old Testament superstar. If you are expecting a reverent Bible epic from the guy who brought us "Black Swan," then you may be greatly disappointed.

The film starts out interestingly enough, taking us from creation of life to Adam and Eve's banishment from the Garden of Eden. The world has become an evil place and must be destroyed.

But Noah (Russell Crowe), a devout family man with the body of a gladiator, is charged by the Creator with the task of saving creatures of the air and land by building an ark to protect them during the great flood to come.

It's interesting to see the creation of the ark itself with much of the work been done by the Watchers, fallen angels in the guise of silly Stonehenge Transformers. Thousands of birds and beasts make an impressive sight, even though obviously computer-generated.

The real drama revolves around sex. Noah has three sons and one foster daughter (Emma Watson) who is barren. You do the math. Noah is fine with the idea of the end of humanity — in fact, he's obsessed with it. But his middle son is hoping to score before the flood waters start raging more furiously than his hormones. It must be hell starting puberty when you know the end of the world is nigh.

Finally, after much posturing, speechmaking and bloodletting, the skies rain down vengeance. Noah is nearly swept away — thank goodness for those Russell Crowe biceps! What follows is a lot of silly melodrama, but a big shout-out to Jennifer Connelly, who sobs with a runny nose and still looks beautiful.

"Noah" is a big boatload of silly, overwrought posturing. The ark saved the animals, but who can save us from a pretentious director?

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.