By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)
It must be nice to have such international box office cred that no amount of flops can, um, Sabotage your career. But even considering Arnold Schwarzenegger’s earlier sewage such as 1999′s End of Days or 1996′s Jingle All the Way, this one’s a doozy.
In this current creation, it’s Arnold and his team vs. the evil drug lords. But rather than starring as a sheriff who has to face down a drug kingpin from Mexico (see last year’s The Last Stand), Mr. Schwarzenegger is now the head of a DEA task force tasked to bust up a cartel in … wait for it … Mexico. Wow. This low bar suddenly makes The Expendables franchise — which is about to release a three-peat this summer — look like Oscar bait.
More confounding than this idiotic plot, that starts out stupid and plunges into the murky depths below, is the fact that the highly talented David Ayer (writer/director of 2012′s End of Watch and writer of 2001′s Training Day) is this movie’s director and co-writer (credit shared with Skip Wood). Has Ayer somehow been victimized by a cartel as well?
On to the story, if we must: DEA-team leader John “Breacher” Wharton (Schwarzenegger) and his merry, AK47-toting squad of seven travel south of the border to raid a cache of cash hidden in a swanky cartel compound. After cutting down droves of baddies, they get to the money. However, before alerting U.S. agents anxiously standing by, they hide $10 million for themselves. When the team returns to the scene of the crime to collect their stolen coin, the dollars have disappeared. Worse, the FBI has also discovered that the money is missing — but no matter how frequently the gang is grilled, everyone keeps mum. Eventually the FBI considers the case closed, and the team is allowed to get back together again.
Wonderful. Except that amid the usual day job of racking up the body count as they fight on the shady side of right and might, the team comes to the grim realization that they are getting picked off one by one. These murders aren’t tame – they’re all fairly bloody affairs, rife with eviscerations that look like wild beasts had feasted on the bodies and then, displeased with the taste, subsequently spewed the contents out. Needless to say, Sabotage is not for the faint of heart. Or spleen. Or any other body part.
Consider this a mash-up of the serial killer film Se7en with a dullard version of the Agatha Christie mystery novel “And Then There Were None.” In other words, Sabotage is chockablock with all of the gore … and none of the intrigue.
Still, a few actors manage to eke out strong performances. Most impressive is Mireille Enos (World War Z, HBO’s Big Love). Representing the sole female member of the squad, she plays a wackjob crack addict with so much twisted glee, she holds our fascination when all else falls apart. Olivia Williams (An Education, Hyde Park on Hudson) is certainly a fine actress, but she can only do so much as the workaholic FBI agent who is woefully left out of the loop. As for the rest of DEA crew, given the obvious effort that the actors had put in to build their physiques, it’s a shame that the writers couldn’t return the favor by building them any character depth.
And then there’s Arnold. Known for his affinity for cigars and Humvees, he peacocks through the movie, smoking cigars and driving Humvees. Though the plot doesn’t call for it, we have to wait as the movie creaks to a stop while the onetime iconic muscleman visits the gym to lift weights. Is this a movie or merely a journaling of Arnold’s daily routine?
In summary, don’t expect much from this latest cinematic exercise, which appears to be nothing more than an excuse for Arnold the AARPster to throw his weight around, bludgeoning us with equal parts of carnage and deathly boredom. Which is sort of like killing us twice.
Rating on a scale of 5 hopes that Sabotage could exhibit some heavy lifting: 1
Release date: March 28, 2014
Directed by: David Ayer
Written by: Skip Woods and David Ayer
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mireille Enos
Running Time: 110 minutes
Here’s the trailer: