CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Harold Perrineau, Martin Donovan, Max Martini, Josh Holloway, Kevin Vance, Gary Grubbs
RUNNING TIME: 109 mins
BASICALLY…: A team of DEA agents, as led by Jon Breacher (Schwarzenegger), are being targeted one by one after a drug raid goes incredibly far south…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Has anyone noticed a significant change in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career ever since he returned from politics? Gone are the days of Commando-style silliness and Total Recall-esque corny one-liners, which now make way for something much more refined, dignified and – yes – even impressive. With every role that the one-time Mr. Freeze (we stress “one-time”) takes nowadays seems to further enhance his acting abilities and further himself away from the mindless shoot-em-ups we knew and loved him for. He can even make lousy entertainment such as Escape Plan watchable because he is giving it his all, moreso than before he became the “Governator”.
With Sabotage, he plays things straighter than ever before and manages to turn out one of his most layered performances in years. Very much an anti-hero this time round, Schwarzenegger’s Breacher is no John Matrix – he lies, he’s ruthless in the field, and orchestrates a drug-money heist during the film’s opener which signifies his darker, borderline-corrupt tendencies. Naturally, the film does tell us why he’s such a downer and what his true motivations are, but Schwarzenegger has never been so captivating in showing his character’s emotional weight. In fact, it’s one of the rare times you simply see the character instead of Schwarzenegger playing the character. As a performer, this film is a major hurdle that the Austrian actor has managed to pass with flying colours.
The rest of the film, however, doesn’t fare as well as its headlining star does.
The holes in the plot keep getting bigger as the movie progresses, with some sharp character turns that come almost out of nowhere which almost confirms they’re making it all up as they go along. It doesn’t help that, outside of Schwarzenegger and Olivia Williams’ hard-boiled detective (who unfortunately and once more out of nowhere hook up at least once before the end), none of the characters are worth rooting for. Though what would you expect from people whose nicknames range from “Monster” to “Grinder”? Needless to say, with all their outrageous insults and extreme profanity, as well as acting like pure idiotic douchebags for the majority of the running time, they won’t be appearing in any forthcoming Care Bears specials. In fact, the only one out of this group of insolent dicks to come out with some memorability is the only one without a dick – Mireille Enos, as the wild and drug-addled “tough chick”, is so gloriously over-the-top and cartoonish that she reigns as one of the most fun things to watch during this movie.
For some reason, director David Ayer has chosen to insert an uncomfortable amount of gore into the frame, perhaps mistaking it for a new sequel of Saw rather than a Schwarzenegger movie. Bodies are found gutted and nailed to ceilings; there are headshots left and right, courtesy of our trigger-happy team; entire families are needlessly tortured to death; and rivers of blood coat the floor of a character’s floor to signify their demise. It’s extremely graphic for something that’s meant to be an action film, and we’re not sure if Ayer wanted to push his adult certificate to the furthest extreme, or has a seriously disturbing fetish for blood and guts for which he seriously needs to see someone about.
There’s only so much one can really say about Sabotage without going over the limits of review space, but honestly there’s not much left to say anyway. The only thing this movie should be remembered for is, of course, Arnie himself – as stated, he seems to be finding his place in the acting world more and more with each new film he signs on to, with Sabotage being a new and exciting peak. Hopefully, he can up his game more in next year’s Terminator reboot.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Sabotage’s greatest strength is its headlining star, who gives a surprisingly nuanced and mature action performance that serves as a good sign for the future. Everything else is as obnoxious, unnecessarily violent and ludicrous as you’d expect from any modern full-blown action flick.