Review: Sabotage – Schwarzenegger’s back to B-movie banality
Early on in the new Schwarzenegger vehicle, Sabotage, you get a close-up look at a toilet overflowing with disgusting fecal matter, which it turns out is very symbolic of the entire film you are about to sit through. Ultra-violent and downright dumb, this is one of the worst Arnold movies ever.
Schwarzenegger films are always at their best when they have a certain tongue-in-cheek quality to them to help offset the typically bad acting; because when his movies try to be serious they almost always veer into the stupid lane. Sabotage is almost totally humorless unless you find it hilarious to hear law enforcement officers bantering like punk kids in the high-school gym locker-room instead of as Drug Enforcement Agency professionals.
The film begins with DEA Agent “Breacher” Wharton (Schwarzenegger) watching a video of his wife being brutally tortured and murdered by a Mexican drug cartel, then jumps several months into the future as Breacher’s team takes down a drug lord by burning his stash of money – after they take ten-million dollars for themselves – which mysteriously disappears before they can even collect it.
The DEA undercover team includes a cast of stereotypical characters, including: “Monster” (Sam Worthington), “Grinder” (Joe Manganiello), “Neck” (Josh Holloway), “Pyro” (Max Martini), “Sugar” (Terrence Howard), “Tripod” (Kevin Vance), “Smoke” (Mark Schlegel), and the lone woman agent, who is also, apparently, a prostituting crack-addict, “Lizzy” (Mireille Enos). Breacher’s guys (and girl) are under investigation for the drug money theft, but then out of the blue the case is dropped and the team is free to party and play again (I honestly don’t know what else they do.)
Soon the undercover agents start being killed and we assume the drug cartel is the culprit (of course it wouldn’t be a movie called “Sabotage” if everything was as it seemed.) The DEA murders are especially gruesome and gory and you might start to think you are watching the latest installment of Friday the 13th instead of an Arnold action flick. This stuff is not for the squeamish and it adds to the heavy-handed feel of the film.
Even with all the blood and guts in this movie, the acting is the most horrific part of the film. Some of the actors who you would expect to deliver a decent performance, and I’m talking specifically about Sam Worthington (Avatar), makes Schwarzenegger look good in this movie. The only cast member who does a decent job is Olivia Williams (you might remember her as Dr. Moira MacTaggart in X-Men: The Last Stand), who plays FBI Investigator Caroline Brentwood, assigned to investigate the DEA Agent murders.
Breacher is still tore up over the brutal killing of his wife, but not so much that he can’t have a quick romp with Investigator Brentwood in a sequence that is so eye-rolling bad that you may need to see an optometrist afterwards.
You can’t blame everything on the actors here though, as the script they are given to work with, co-written by Skip Woods (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Director David Ayer (End of Watch), is terrible; with some of the most unintentionally humorous lines in recent memory.
Corny as he is, I’m an old school Arnold fan and I was actually looking forward to this movie, but unfortunately Sabotage is one of the worst films so far this year. It’s going to take Schwarzenegger some time to get the stank of this one off of him.
Photos © 2014 Open Road Films