Trailer Face-Off: Blood Ties vs. Sabotage

Published February 6, 2014

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Blood Ties vs. Sabotage, two crime dramas about relationships that take unexpected turns.

PremiseBlood Ties opens as Clive Owen’s character, Chris, is released from prison, where he was held for years after participating in a gangland murder. His younger brother, Frank (played by Billy Crudup) is a rising star in the NYPD, and despite the complications it causes him at work, Frank supports Chris’s efforts to start a new life by helping him find a job and reconnect with his family. Alas, Chris is incapable of getting back on his feet, and Frank’s efforts to bury the past are unsuccessful as Chris descends back into the criminal underworld. By the time Frank comes to the realization that he should banish his brother from his life, it becomes clear that the brothers’ relationship is far too intertwined for either one of them to make a clean break.

In a slightly different take on law-enforcement-vs.-gangworld, Sabotage stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Drug Enforcement Administration commander in charge of an elite group of operatives. The group’s latest and most challenging mission yet involves busting the safe house of a huge drug cartel. Problems arise after the team successfully executes the raid and it is revealed that 10 million dollars of cartel money has gone missing. One by one, DEA team members are mysteriously eliminated, and since no one’s sure who’s behind the murders or where the money is, everyone becomes a suspect. We’ve seen the stories that Blood Ties is trying to tell before. Sabotage sounds a bit suspect, but here’s hoping it will throw us a curveball with its big reveal.Advantage: Sabotage           

Literary RootsBlood Ties is a remake of the 2008 French thriller Les Liens du Sang, which was an adaptation of the French novel of the same name. Sabotage, on the other hand, is based (albeit loosely) on Agatha Christie’s 1939 worldwide bestseller, And Then There Were None. We’re hesitant fans of the book-to-movie journey, and sometimes drawing loose inspiration from the written word is more successful than an all-out remake, so Sabotage‘s distant novelistic ties take this one.Advantage: Sabotage

Star-Studded EnsemblesBoth films boast impressive supporting casts in the roles of concerned family members (Blood Ties) and DEA team members (Sabotage). Blood Ties features everybody from Billy Crudup to Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts, and James Caan; while Sabotage‘s people-in-the-background include Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and the list goes on… It’s a close call, but Blood Ties has an Oscar winner (looking at you, Marion).Advantage: Blood Ties

Leading MenClive Owen has always been an extremely versatile and adaptable actor; from period dramas to action films to romantic dramas, we’ve seen Owen skillfully tackle the whole range of the cinema spectrum. Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, might be most gently described as more of a “one-note” kind of actor. Plus Owen’s character is the more dramatically enticing of the two, which is reason enough for us.Advantage: Blood Ties

DirectorBattle of the writer-directors: both films have their fearless leaders pulling double duty. French director Guillaume Canet takes the reins with Blood Ties, having previously made a name for himself as an established actor in French cinema—he even starred in Les Liens du Sang as Billy Crudup’s character equivalent. Meanwhile, David Ayer, writer and director of Sabotage, certainly has a “type,” having directed past action/crime films like The Fast and the Furious and End of Watch. Yet with both directors also sitting in the writer’s seat, it’s hard to determine a clear winner here.Advantage: Tie

The VerdictThe trailer for Blood Ties seems to more pointedly emphasize the “drama” half of the “crime drama” designation that categorizes both films. While Sabotage‘s storyline sounds inherently compelling, the fact that it might disintegrate into one grisly murder discovery after another has us leaning towards Blood Ties.Winner: Blood Ties

Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here