Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard
Genre: Thriller/ Drama/ Action
When on a drugs bust in a cartel warehouse, John ‘Breacher’ Wharton (Schwarzenegger) and his elite team of DEA agents decide to very stealthily keep $10 million dollars for themselves only to find that is then subsequently stolen from them. After surviving internal investigations, Wharton and his team now find themselves being gruesomely picked off one by one by this very dangerous and brutal cartel that they stole the money from. Now, with the reluctant help of a hardnosed homicide cop (Olivia Williams), Wharton and his team must uncover and hunt down the members of this cartel, before they themselves are brutally hunted.
So Arnie’s return to the film industry is well and truly underway now, and my God he looks old! That is not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe his judgement is starting to go now too as Sabotage is in my view by far the worst of both his recent films and all time film career, as even Hercules in New York and Batman & Robin had more redeeming features than this total and utter rubbish. Arnie’s wrinkles playing a world weary veteran cop in a film by David Ayer (famed for his gritty and realistic approach) seemed like a great concept to me, hence why I was willing to part with my (admittedly very limited) resources to see this at the cinema.
Well, Ayer and co scripter Skip Woods (who wrote Die Hard 5 – sounds ominous!) have really delivered what has to be one of the year’s worst films, and certainly biggest disappointments in my book. The narrative itself is a complete mess with horrendous dialogue and even more horrendous characters that we are apparently supposed to care about, not of course helped by the various displays of atrocious acting on show from its cast. They may look the part of their stupid surnames, but (with perhaps the exception of Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway and Arnie) they overact beyond belief. The worst offenders are Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos who overact to within an inch of their lives, chewing every piece of cliché ridden clunky dialogue and spitting it into the audience faces.
Maverick cops who work hard and play hard, perhaps occasionally deploying rough justice have been done to death in films and can work, but in Sabotage this all goes too far to produce characters it is genuinely impossible to like at all. The main thrust of the narrative is to figure out who in the team (if anyone) stole the stolen money, and there are attempts at apparent twists and revelations. Firstly it is very difficult to even care, and I don’t think Ayer and Woods never really thought it through either, and are just hoping that having the occasional brutal and genuinely nasty scenes of violence will make up for that.
Admittedly some of the action scenes are well put together, but with no emotional involvement in the characters there is no suspense. I personally wanted them all to die, as that is what they all deserved and that meant the film could finish and I could go home. Ayer’s attempts to deliver real violence with no CGI is always an admirable thing, and as I know many have said, there is some truly brutal blood soaked violence in Sabotage that raise questions as to how it was classified as a 15 certificate.
For an action film, Sabotage is surprisingly dialogue heavy; but with characters that are impossible to like it is a real laborious watch at times. Apparently the original cut of the film was around three hours, which is a very scary thought indeed! There is even an attempt to give Arnie’s character a tragic back story. These are however painfully clichéd and involves him attempting to act well above his range in scenes where he is getting moody and drinking by himself, but it is just impossible to care at all. Arnie is just himself in this film, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when every other aspect of the film is so bad that is nowhere near enough. In fact, the only redeeming features of the film are unintentionally funny moments involving Arnie, proving that he really should stick to fun action films like The Last Stand or Escape Plan.
Clichés are fine in isolation, in fact some of the best films of all time have an abundance of them, but it is what the film maker does with them that matters. Sabotage is happy to use them at its own convenience, but no amount of blood splattered violence, extreme overacting or clunky dialogue is going to make that forgivable.
Ayer’s career as a film maker continues to take a nose dive, and with Sabotage he seems to have Arnie as one of his unfortunate passengers. It is a horrible film with horrible characters that offers no engagement or emotional investment whatsoever, and is a real laborious effort to watch from start to finish.