March gets violent in the film world this week with the arrival of 300 prequel/sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, before the month closes with the release of the gritty crime/thriller Sabotage. That movie – featuring a cast of characters that includes hard-living DEA agents, powerful drug cartels, and simple old-fashioned cold-blooded murderers running about – is the latest study of law-upholding officers’ dangerous career demands, from writer/director David Ayer (End of Watch).

Arnold Schwarzenegger leads an ensemble in Sabotage as John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, the patriarch in a family of elite DEA agents, who take down a wide-reaching drug cartel’s safe house, securing millions of dollars in funds in the process. Unfortunately, their victory is short-lived, as the money soon goes missing, while the members of Wharton’s squad are suddenly being picked off, one by one – with all signs pointing to one of their own being the killer (and thief) behind it all.

The new extended TV promo for Sabotage hints at the gruesome acts that ensue, once Wharton and his crew end up becoming the hunted (for a proper taste of that, watch the red band trailer). In an interview with EW, costar Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) re-affirmed that Ayer prefers his crime dramas to be “dark” and “nasty” – after all, he was also responsible for writing the grisly dirty cop drama Training Day (which snagged Denzel Washington an Oscar).

Having said that, Manganiello also emphasized that there’s a purpose behind showing such depravity in Sabotage:

“[The] violence in the movie is taken from what’s actually going in that world. The things that are done to people are gruesome and scary.”

Manganiello spent about four month alongside real DEA agents while researching his role, which is in keeping with Ayers’ preferred cinema verite approach, when it comes to how he portrays cops/federal officers onscreen. (Ayer’s bad habit of occasionally doing so through contrived stories of corruption, that’s another matter.) Indeed, Schwarzenegger is a long ways from his recent more winking, self-parody work on The Last Stand, Escape Plan and (one assumes) the upcoming Expendables 3.

That’s all good, but what about the story for Sabotage? Well, the original script draft was penned by Skip Woods, who drew inspiration from Agatha Christie’s famous murder-mystery yarn And Then There Were None; problem is that Woods’ history of churning out generic action fare with dubious substance – Hitman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard – isn’t encouraging. However, when Ayer boarded the project, he did enough script revising to earn a co-writing credit, so maybe that’ll help to save Sabotage from mediocrity (at the least).

Supporting cast members in Sabotage include Terrence Howard (Prisoners), Sam Worthington (Wrath of the Titans), Josh Holloway (Lost), Mireille Enos (The Killing), and Olivia Williams (Hyde Park on Hudson).

Sabotage opens in U.S. theaters on March 28th, 2014.

Source: EW