Sabotage – Movie Review

Sabotage

Schwarzenegger sabotaged in the editing room?

Thanks to Sony Universal Home Entertainment we had the chance to see ‘Sabotage’ on DVD.

Sabotage3Arnold Schwarzenegger is back doing what he does best in this no holds barred action flick, where he plays the head of an elite DEA Task Force. During a raid on a drug cartel they try and steal ten million dollars, but from that point everything goes wrong: the cash goes missing, and one by one the members of the elite squad end up getting killed in horrific ways. While it initially looks like the cartel is taking revenge on those who robbed them, it soon becomes clear someone within the team must be responsible for taking all the others out.

After the highly enjoyable ‘Expendables’-sequel and the terrific ‘Escape Plan’, expectations were high for what Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to do next. And judging by the trailer, ‘Sabotage’ was going to be an old fashioned Ahnold Shoot-them-up, with a great support cast as well. Unfortunately, ‘Sabotage’ never becomes the movie it looked like it was going to be. On the contrary; it is chaotic, nasty, not suspenseful, and its excellent cast is greatly underused.

Sabotage1That is a shame, in particular because Arnold is surrounded with some great actors that are due to either make that next step up in their career, or make that comeback we’ve been waiting for. Sam Worthington looked like he was going to become the new it-guy after ‘Avatar’ but his star has fizzled in recent years. Josh Holloway should really have been a huge blockbuster star by now; his character in Lost was one big homage to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo to the extent that his surname was even Ford, and when the series ended nothing seemed to stand in the charismatic actor’s way to become a huge star. Years later we’re still waiting for Holloway to become an A-lister.

Sabotage2Just as charismatic as Holloway is Joe Manganiello, whose physique is up there with Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman, yet the former stuntman has been stuck in ‘True Blood’ for years now. Last but not least there’s Terrence Howard, whose career took an unfortunate turn when his agents tried to play hardball with Marvel and he famously lost the role of War Machine to Don Cheadle as a result. For each and every one of these guys you really wish that ‘Sabotage’ would be good, but it just isn’t.

Yet it is easy to explain why so many good actors said yes to such a bad movie: they all jumped at the chance to work with Arnold Schwarzenegger. But what was Ahnold himself thinking picking this film over the numerous other offers he has to choose from?

Sabotage4There are still some good action scenes, particularly the raid at the start and the car chase towards the end of the film. However this film never lives up to the expectations.  The lack of a decent story is particularly surprising since director David Ayer previously wrote the acclaimed ‘Training Day’, while he wrote and directed the well-received ‘End Of Watch’. As we speak Ayer is working on the big World War II epic ‘Fury‘ with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. Yet ‘Sabotage’ feels like a straight to dvd movie (which it is here in Australia) that by chance ended up having an A-List cast.

Sabotage5This may not be Ayer’s fault though; Apparently the director intended to make a big crime epic, while the producers just wanted a straight forward action flick. Ayer’s first cut of the film was reportedly almost three hours long, which implies that almost an hour of footage ended up on the cutting room floor. This may explain why the film makes absolutely no sense, why none of the characters are decently fleshed out, and why the plot twists towards the end come across so ludicrous and laughable. ‘Sabotage’ should have been a fun action thriller with which Arnold could continue his comeback set in motion with ‘The Last Stand’, ‘Escape Plan’ and The Expendables-franchise. Instead it is easily the worst thing he’s been in since 1997’s ‘Batman & Robin’.