Sabotage (2014) Directed by David Ayer. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Olivia Williams and Mireille Enos.
In Sabotage, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays ‘Breacher’, the leader of a crack-team of DEA agents, who find themselves being hunted down one-by-one after a botched attempt to rob a cartel. Sadly, it represents a huge step back for everyone involved. Director David Ayer, demonstrated much promise with End of Watch (William Friedkin tweeted -“may be the best cop film ever…”), and he applies some of that same documentary flavour here, but the plot, vile characters and writing are so cheap and so nasty, that the film is a thankless chore to endure.
Firstly, it has a crushing sense of its own self-importance; like the things that are happening should automatically matter to us. The majority of the main characters are annoying, one-sided idiots. Arnie’s ‘elite team’ are rag-tag bunch of tattooed, muscle-bound hard-men (plus Mireille Enos), with an array of goatee bears, shaven heads, stupid names (Tripod, Sugar, Grinder, Monster…etc ) and mouths that can’t get through a sentence without saying “fuck“. Everyone has a severe case of Tourette’s.
Aside from The Terminator, all the best Schwarzenegger films had a healthy hint of self-parody about them. In Commando and Predator, he quips like 007 as he despatches the bad guys. So too in The Running Man and Total Recall, but with more outlandish, camp elements (the latter is a classic). In Sabotage, the tone is gravely serious. It feels like the Arnie we know and love has been worn down by the world. Without a script that uses his trademark cheesy charm to rescue his awful acting ability, he’s cut hopelessly adrift. Add to that a horror-haircut and the ravages of age, and well…he just doesn’t seem to fit.
The rest of the film is mish-mash of scenes involving homicide detective Olivia Williams (her American accent does a tour of the states) and Arnie’s team. Of a very bad bunch, Mireille Enos seems to rise above the material. Her character oozes an edgy sense of mayhem brewing, that in a better film would have perhaps left more of an impression. Sadly, she’s up against a gutter-level script that is more interested in cramming as much swearing into its runtime as possible.
Everything is dark and depressing, nasty and boring. Aside from a decent introduction, the action is stock and unimaginative. If Sabotage is anything to go by, the ‘GeriAction’ genre is wheezing and in need of its inhaler. He doesn’t even say “I’ll be back“. On this evidence, we wouldn’t want him to be. 1.5/5