T-800 finally meets Marcus Wright. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard star in David Ayer’s Sabotage.
Cast of Characters:
John “Breacher” Wharton – Arnold Schwarzenegger
James “Monster” Murray – Sam Worthington
Investigator Caroline Brentwood – Olivia Williams
Julius “Suger” Edmonds – Terrence Howard
Joe “Grinder” Phillips – Joe Manganiello
Eddie “Neck” Jordan – Josh Holloway
Lizzy Murray – Mireille Enos
Director – David Ayer
Screenplay – Skip Woods & David Ayer
Producer – Bill Block, David Ayer, Ethan Smith, Paul Hanson & Palak Patel
Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Down in Georgia, John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leads a DEA task force, each member with their own obligatory, hardcore nickname – among them are Monster (Sam Worthington), Sugar (Terrence Howard), Grinder (Joe Manganiello) and Neck (Josh Holloway). They’re on a mission to stop a ruthless drug cartel, but after a successful raid, one that involves millions of dollars allegedly being stolen by someone in the task force, things begin to go downhill for them.
While investigated by Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) for their “whodunit” within the raid, it starts getting dicey for Breacher and his task force as, one by one, members get picked off and all those surviving are pinned as potential suspects.
Aside from the Expendables films where he had significantly smaller roles, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently got back into the lead acting game with 2013’s The Last Stand and Escape Plan. The former was okay fun, while the latter, also starring Sylvester Stallone,was whatever. Regardless of whether his post-governor films were good or not, they were all box office bombs. That’s a shame considering there was a time when Arnie was quite the box office draw with moviegoers, but those days are past. However, I’m still pulling for Mr. Terminator himself to have a comeback on his own terms and not just in the Expendables films.
Sabotage is proof that we’ll still be waiting for that comeback. Holy hell, what a God awful mess of a film.
Co-written and directed by David Ayer, Sabotage is dark, gritty and brutal in the worst ways possible. Ayer’s written great films before such as Training Day and the criminally underrated films Dark Blue and End of Watch (which he also directed). He’s also been involved in some crap, having directed Street Kings, so combined with some other not-so-stellar writing efforts, his career has been hit or miss. How bad does a film have to be, though, to get me to miss Street Kings?
Yes, a film that showed the world just how badly Keanu Reeves needs the Matrix universe and not the other way around.
In a nutshell, Sabotage is about a team of DEA Agents, that no one can care about ’cause there’s nothing to them, stuck in a “one of us is the real bad guy” scenario, that once again no one can care about ’cause there’s no emotion or sense of danger involved, with the violence ratcheted up to max that serves no purpose in style or substance ’cause it’s just there simply to show the next dead victim that pops up out of nowhere. While the previews made this film out to look like we were in store for some gritty, bloody fun, what we end up getting is a dull, emotionless, gruesome dog turd with gaping plot holes big enough to house Noah, his family and all the animals playing on the screen next to you that you wish you were watching instead of this stinking pile of diarrhea.
Schwarzenegger is capable of delivering fun. Ayer is capable of delivering fun. Something wrong must’ve happened along the way, ’cause this film’s as fun as a root canal without the Novocain.
The primary problem with this film is that David Ayer probably thought that he wrote Denzel Washington’s way to another Oscar and directed Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena with great results, so naturally he could get the same out of Schwarzenegger. With all due respect to Dutch, he can’t act. He’s got all the charisma in the world, which is one reason why, with the right material that’s able to work within his limits, he’s still capable of putting out great movies. He’s not an actor, though, and even in his best films was never known for his acting chops, so I’m not sure why Ayer tried to pry some type of dark, tormented performance out of him.
But, Arnold’s not entirely to blame here, ’cause everyone really drops the ball here in terms of performing. Maybe it’s the fact that, at least in this film, no one can give a decent performance to save their lives. Maybe it’s the atrocious dialogue and characterization, mostly written by Skip Woods (Ayer only provided additions). That’s the same Skip Woods that wrote A Good Day to Die Hard, The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hitman. Either way, these are some unlikeable, bat-shit crazy, psychotic people, with absolutely no rhyme, reason or motivation as to why they are that way. They’re so crazy, I’m not sure how they were able to earn a DEA badge when I wouldn’t even trust them as a meter reader or a mall cop.
Sam Worthington tries his best here, but he still has yet to convince me of his acting abilities. Sure, he was in The Debt and I’m the only one that liked Terminator Salvation (although it’s not ’cause I thought he gave an amazing performance or anything), but I’m still waiting, Sam.
And poor Terrence Howard. Just imagine, he gave up on two Iron Man films to star in dreck like this.
The only one who really goes full tilt boogie here is Mireille Enos as Worthington’s wife Lizzy. She’s the craziest one out of the bunch, which says a lot about her since they’re all crazy. Yet, even if she’s the only one involved here out of everyone that had a part in making this that’s in on the apparent joke by going all-out with her craziness, everything else about this film takes itself so seriously, I can’t even be entertained by her bizarreness.
I haven’t even touched on the head-scratching editing choices that are desperately screaming “Look how cool and crafty we’re being!”. The most notable example is Schwarzenegger and Williams heading to the home of one of the gang and the way it cuts from scene to scene leads you to believe it’s all happening at the same time. It took a few more scenes for me to realize it’s present scenes intercut with scenes from prior events that recently took place. It’s meant to somehow be smart, but it’s certain to leave viewers confused.
Sabotage falls victim to being a film that wants to be much more clever in all its “who’s the mystery killer” mess than it actually is. It’s not clever at all, but it is about 110 minutes worth of brutal, bloody punishment. The dialogue’s unintentionally cheesy, the performances are either flat or just over-the-top, and it’s really hard for me to care about justice being served within the group when I could less about anyone in this ragtag group of dumbed-down characters. I’m still hoping Arnold has that comeback film left in him. As much success as he had (mostly thanks to James Cameron) in his heyday, he deserves it. This film most definitely won’t be it.
I give Sabotage a D- (½★).
REVIEWS COMING LATER NEXT WEEK…
3/31/14 What the Hell Were They Thinking?!
4/1/14 Benjamin’s Stash
4/3/14 Draft Day (early review)
4/4/14 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4/4/14 Dom Hemingway
4/5/14 Nymphomaniac: Volume II