Arnold fans…this isn’t the film we were hoping for or expecting. 2013’s The Last Stand wasn’t the best, but at least it offered a few good one-liners and brought Arnold back to the type of character that is enjoyable to watch. In his newest film Sabotage, Arnold plays a kickass DEA agent, out for revenge. It sounds promising for any Ahnuld fan and features a stellar supporting cast, but the film itself is as disappointing as 1997’s Batman & Robin where Arnold played Mr. Freeze. Shudder.
Written by Skip Woods (2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard) and David Ayer (2012’s End of Watch), Sabotage follows DEA Agent John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his task force team as they take down a drug cartel safe house. The top-notch team, who call each other by their nicknames, includes Monster (Sam Worthington), Grinder (Joe Mangianello), Neck (Josh Holloway), Sugar (Terrence Howard), Pyro (Max Martini), Tripod (Kevin Vance) and Lizzy (Mireille Enos). But when members of the team start being picked off one by one, Breacher and a stop-at-nothing detective Caroline (Olivia Williams) start to investigate to find the killers.
The major problem with Sabotage lies in its mean-spirited and strange screenplay. This team claims that they are all brothers and would take bullets for each other, yet after the first team member is killed, it’s as if they don’t even care. “That’s part of the job” statements are said between everyone as they enjoy shots together at a local strip club. Huh? Shouldn’t we at least see some revenge plotting and determination to find the killers after our friends are brutally murdered? Even Breacher (Schwarzenegger) looks at the remains of his fallen friends and doesn’t even break a sweat. The film fails to capture the balance between tough cop and caring brother, like End of Watch achieved.
There’s nothing wrong with violence in an action movie such as this one, but Sabotage is full of mindless and disturbing violence and what seems like endless gore. During the climatic scene, we see innocent people getting slaughtered and there’s more gore in the film than any decent horror film I’ve ever seen. It’s about as R-rated as a movie can get.
Director David Ayer uses his unique point-of-view shots, with some especially effective ones behind the gunfire and then in front of the gunfire, but his documentary filmmaking style isn’t enough to save the film. It’s hard not to compare Sabotage and End of Watch, which is one of the best cop films I’ve ever seen. Ayer’s screenplay and direction paired with the divine performances from Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal were hard to forget when the film ended. Whereas in Sabotage not one character is likable or redeemable, with maybe the exception of Olivia Williams’ character. This makes it harder to root for our hero to win and care about the story.
Arnold fans will most likely be disappointed in this film, since it offers no nostalgia to his classics films and the screenplay isn’t nearly as interesting or entertaining as it should be.