This nasty, sleazy little action thriller plays sort of like Ten Little Indians. If Ten Little Indians was unbelievably pumped full of steroids and tequila, high on liquid meth, tattooed on every square inch of skin, brutally foulmouthed and full of extraordinarily gory violence.
Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of a DEA Special Operations team who specialize in penetration of Mexican drug cartels. His team is an assortment of hyper-macho assholes who constantly taunt one another but are handy in a firefight, and includes the likes of Max Martini, Josh Holloway, Terence Howard, Joe Mangianello and husband-wife team Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos.
Breacher’s wife and son have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a cartel, and after this Breacher has apparently lost it to a degree. In the first act, he and his team attempt to steal $10 Million of cartel money on a raid. Only somebody steals the cash from under their noses, and six months later, and one-by-one, they start showing up dead, in hideous ways: run over by a train while trapped inside a winebago, nailed to the ceiling of a house, etc.
While Detective Brentwood (Olivia Williams), the investigator on the case, tries to negotiate this crew of horrendously unlikable hardcases and figure out who could be behind the murders, the others scatter like rats, waiting for the Mexican death squad they imagine is gunning for them.
Ayer knows his way around macho dialogue, and he shoots each action scene for immersive effect, only occasionally sacrificing coherence in the process. There is a geeky obsession with procedure here; never have I seen a film quite so forensic about how a trained squad would sweep a room than this one. This is a film for fans of ultra-violent pulp; it is ugly, tremendously bloody, appeallingly visceral. There are many firefights, a crunching car chase. Violence always feels only a beat away.
The cast look to be having a high old time, chortling and grunting their way through their preposterously macho dialogue, and this is perhaps the best Schwarzenegger has ever been, particularly in his scenes with an impressively butch Williams.
Ayer, then, is shaping up to be a truly reliable creator of intensely male b-movies; for disposable, tasteless violent pulp fun, there are currently few better.