It begins where many movies climax – with a kidnapping and the theft of a load of cash from an impregnable fortress. But this action thriller from David Ayer (director of ‘End of Watch’, writer of ‘Training Day’) is out to mess with our expectations, even if it can’t escape the trappings of your usual Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.
Yes, the Governator is back, and he’s in a brooding mood. His character, drug cop John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, has suffered a family tragedy, leading him to rob a vicious cartel of $10 million. The heist goes off without a hitch but then the money disappears, a hard-nosed investigator (unlikely co-star Olivia Williams) starts poking around and the bodies start piling up.
So has Arnie turned his back on his kill-’em-with-a quip days? Not quite. Ayer’s filmmaking style, with its jumps in time and ugly violence, only feigns insight into Arnie’s tortured character. In truth, he’s the same old Arnold, tooled up and out for blood, just with fewer puns. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re even thankful when Ayer stops trying to make this tale of vengeance more arty and just lets Arnie do what he does best: blowing the bad guys away.