SABOTAGE

SABOTAGE

By Gary Murray

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Terrence Howard

Written by Skip Woods and David Ayer

Directed by David Ayer

Running time 109 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Cable

 

At one time, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the biggest movie star on the planet.  With his ripped physique, he was the perfect action hero.  The Terminator, Total Recall and Predator are just a few hits on his resume. 

This former Mr. Universe then took on politics and ran the state of California for a few years basically retiring from cinema.  Now, he has been trying to make a comeback in the movies.  Escape Plan and The Last Stand have been attempts to revive the career, neither one did that well at the box office.  The latest jolt to revive the corpse that is his career is Sabotage.

The film starts with a torture scene on video and Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) watching the mayhem.  A flash-forward and Breacher and his DEA crew are getting ready to storm a compound of drug dealers.  Lizzy (Mireille Enos) is the woman on the inside, doing drugs with the bad guys.  The rest of the crew assaults the area, blood and body parts flying and splattering.  This feels just like a typical action flick.

Then the film takes its first turn.  The entire crew starts taking money and sliding it down a sewer pipe.  They skim about 10 million off the top of the stack before they blow up the remaining palate of cash.  The DEA crew is robbing the drug dealers.  But when they go into the sewer, the squad finds that all the stolen money is missing.

The higher-ups believe that the DEA crew has morphed into common criminals.  But, no one in the group breaks and they are cleared of any malfeasance.  We meet each member of the crew and they all look like extras from Sons of Anarchy.  They are eventually excoriated.  Then, members begin wondering ‘Who actually has taken all the cash?”

After that moment, all of the agents begin looking at each other as the thief.  Then, one of the members is killed.  This brings an investigation by FBI and agent Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams).  She believes that the first death of one of the crew is an accident.  That is until she finds a second body nailed to a ceiling.  She believes that the drug cartel is after Breacher and his crew.  She and Breacher become unsure allies as they investigate the rest of the DEA looking for either a murderer or a mole. 

The entire film slowly turns and twists with a body count until only the bad guy and the good guy are left.  The film ends with what is truly the only bright spots of the film, a pair of gun battles that borrow liberally from the film making toolbox of Quentin Tarantino.

So much of this film feels like a rehash of those anti-cop dramas from the 1970s.  Director and co-writer David Ayer has done his homework in making this film by referencing just about every old action flick from decades ago.  At the same time he tries something new with his camera, such as a gun POV camera shot.  It is interesting, unique and almost works as an action beat.

The problem is that he tries to make a suspense film without any suspense.  It is obvious almost from the first frame who is the villain.  There were few true surprises in the screenplay of Sabotage.  It is almost a paint-by-numbers thriller, knowing where every daub of paint will be placed.

Arnold look tired in the role.  This faded star just seems to be going through the motions one again, trying to capture the spark that made him a 1980s icon.  Instead of trying to recapture the youthful antics of his career, he would be better off acting his age and playing characters that are not as macho.  Even though the last scene shows signs of cinematic life, the first hour plus is just stale.

With such a large cast, it is hard for the actors to stand out.  The great Terrence Howard disappears for a very long time in the film while Arnold and Olivia Williams hunt down clues.  One would expect some of these other actors to be given more moments.

Only Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos truly have a stand-out performance, with Mireille Enos showing that a woman can kick-butt as well as her male co-stars.  She is the most refreshing individual on the screen, a broken woman who plays rough with the boys.

Sabotage is nothing special and on par with the last two Arnold efforts of the last year.  It is another film that will fade into obscurity by the time the summer blockbusters begin their battle for predominance at the box office.  It is something that Arnold film used to do.  Now, it seems that the man has lost another cinematic fight. 

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