Film Review: Sabotage

by Chad Liffmann on March 28, 2014

Expectations sabotaged by a lack of fun.

A moment of fun amidst a whole lot of not.

A moment of fun amidst a whole lot of not.

Don’t let the above image fool you.  This is not a fun, explosive, Arnold film.  When a movie trailer brags that it features the director of End of Watch and the writer of Training Day, ears perk up!  So why doesn’t this film even come close to capturing the cinematic value of these two prior films?…It’s because Sabotage, the new film directed by David Ayer (Street Kings) and starring the former Governator (Collateral Damage), is a load of gruesome violence packaged into a cop drama wannabe that lacks purpose and explanation…as well as non-expletive dialogue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John “Breacher” Wharton, an experienced DEA agent and leader of a rugged DEA task force featuring the likes of Josh Holloway (Lost), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), and Sam Worthington (Avatar), all three of whom look like they just left the set of Sons of Anarchy.  After busting a drug cartel’s safe house, the DEA team members mysteriously start getting killed, one by one.  Is the threat coming from the drug cartel or from someone within their circle of trust!?  By the end of the movie you’ll know, but you won’t care.

Throughout the course of Sabotage, the audience is subjected to moments of extremely grotesque brutality.  I’m still unsure as to why so much gore was tossed into the mix — it wasn’t necessary.  And, thinking back on the lackluster “payoff” that identifies the culprit, I’ve realized that the film never explains how or why such violent acts were carried out.  It’s illogical, implausible, and ridiculous.

Let’s now focus on the dialogue.  About three quarters of the film consists of dialogue of this nature: “F— you!”, “Breach!”, “On your six”, “Go, go, go”, etc., with a healthy dose of sexual insults thrown in for, I dunno, comedic effect?  Sam Worthington provides the best moments in the movie, both funny and serious.  In fact, he’s actually not too bad an actor here (let the Sam Worthington dissenters rejoice!).  Arnold seems to be getting too old and tired to take on roles meant to elicit dramatic tension and emotional depth, something that he had enough trouble with at a younger age.

In my opinion, what Sabotage should’ve strived to be is a slightly more serious version of The Expendables.  Take Training Day, remove the Oscar-calibur performances, add in some macho camaraderie and more explosions, and voilà!  The least the filmmakers could’ve done is include the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” somewhere in the film.  They may have been denied the rights to the song…for good reason.

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Sabotage opens in Bay Area theaters Friday, March 28th.

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