BBFC Classification: 15
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos
Sabotage sees Arnold Schwarzenegger break away from the fun nostagic trip of The Expendables movies and into a different kind of ensemble gathering where he plays John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, the leader of a team of DEA task force agents whose raid on a drugs cartel’s safe house results in Breacher’s team skimming a few million dollars from their target’s horde of cash. Unfortunately, when they come to collect their takings the cash is missing and, after an internal investigation brings nothing but hostility from all involved, Breacher is given the all-clear to return to active duty. However, it isn’t long before the team start getting picked off one by one, forcing Breacher to team up with a pair of homocide detectives to find out who is picking them off.
Which all sounds like the sort of plot that action fans should be lapping up but Sabotage is a film that, like Breacher himself, doesn’t always play by the rules. The main problem with Sabotage is that it tries to be both an ensemble action thrill-ride and an intelligent crime drama and as such it never really gets any momentum going in either camp, making it something of an incoherent mess. Director David Ayer – known for his gritty realism with films such as End of Watch – has claimed that the film was butchered by the studio in order to make it a bit more action orientated, and the action scenes are very good with blood squibs going off left, right and centre, and the cast – including Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), Joe Manganiello (Spider-Man) and Mireille Enos (World War Z) – have obviously done their homework when it comes to acting like an elite unit.
But the action is broken up by a plot – or something vaguely prentending to be one – that just doesn’t seem to gel, and that’s after you have to get your head round a major plot hole during the first 10 minutes that makes the rest of the film completely nonsensical. That aside, as Sabotage goes on it seems to get more and more confused as it tries to play up a mystery angle that, when it comes to the big reveal, is totally unsatisfactory, meandering to a close that just doesn’t seem to fit with what we’ve just seen.
It would be interesting to see what the pitch was when selling the idea of Sabotage to Arnold Schwarzenegger because, if the stories of studio interference are correct, then it is easy to see why he would be attracted to it as Breacher is quite an interesting character and has a little more depth than the usual characters that Arnie gets to play. And although Arnie himself doesn’t go anywhere we haven’t seen him go to before in terms of performance, his restrained delivery and toned-down persona (“Did you used to be somebody?” he gets asked at one point) work for the character. Sam Worthington doesn’t fare too badly here either, his shaved head and platted goatee beard look working for him, and Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense) also shines as one of the homocide detectives working with Breacher. But there are a few weak links in the cast, namely Terrence Howard, who seems desperate to prove he can be a hard-ass despite having a voice like a children’s TV character, and it’s quite difficult to know if Mireille Enos’ performance is good or not, her hard-as-nails attitude coming across well but her line delivery nothing short of grating.
So it’s a mixed bag for Sabotage. The ensemble cast do what they need to do and deliver the generic action movie script with appropriate amounts of testosterone and machismo (including the women), the action (when it comes) is brutal, bloody and loud, and Arnie proves he is still the focal point of any film when he is on-screen, but anybody expecting an Expendables-style action-fest will be very disappointed as the po-faced nature of the convoluted story will frustrate more than excite. Sabotage isn’t as dire as some have branded it but neither is it as good as you feel it could have been.
Special Features: Deleted scenes, alternate endings, ‘Making of’ featurette.
UK Release Date: 15th September 2014