Second Opinion – Sabotage (2014)

Sabotage, 2014.

Directed by David Ayer.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Max Martini, Harold Perrineau and Mireille Enos.

Sabotage Poster

SYNOPSIS:

A group of DEA Agents are picked off one by one after $10 million dollars disappears from a drug cartel.

Sabotage2

Arnie’s return to the big screen has been a mixed bag and Sabotage is no different. Here Arnie plays Breacher, the leader of a group of unsavoury DEA Agents who start dying in a range of inventive ways after $10 million goes missing after a cartel drugs bust.

There is no denying that Sabotage has some excellent set pieces and its opening and closing sequences offer more gunshot wounds to the head than The Departed. Unfortunately it’s a flawed film and a slight disappointment. The pacing of the film feels off and it drags in places as we wait for the next explosion of violence.

But its main flaw is that all of the DEA Agents we’re supposed to care for are inherently unlikeable. The film begins with the team busting up a drug cartel – a good days work – then our heroes decide to take $10 million for themselves and the audience is apparently supposed to be ok with this. The various characters with macho names like Neck, Grinder, Tripod, Sugar, Monster and strangely Lizzy are not nice people. They start fights, have no respect for the law and are generally aggravating to watch. As the film continues we do get some depth to their characters, but if you don’t care who lives or dies then it’s difficult to have any empathy. We do feel for Arnie’s hardened leader Breacher and when the motives are revealed there is some redemption for the bunch of misfits.

Arnie is the saviour of this film and there’s no denying that at the ripe age of 66, he’s still got it. Sabotage demands him to act more than he has in his previous films and surprisingly he carries it off quite well. An unnecessary relationship with hardened cop (a miscast Olivia Williams) throws things off a bit, but ultimately Arnie prevails. Sabotage is nowhere near the likes of Predator, The Terminator, True Lies et al, but it is a film that celebrates why we still find Arnie watchable after all these years. The film’s finale showcases the high speed chase, gun in hand sequence that made him in my opinion the greatest action hero of all time.

It is a shame that the script and supporting cast don’t live up to what could have been a good film. Writer David Ayer has delivered some exceptional films including Training Day and last year’s sublime End of Watch. What these two films have is heart and that’s what Sabotage is missing. Arnie, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos do their best, but the script is weighed down by unnecessary banter between the agents and only short bursts of action.

Sabotage is an enjoyable film, but as we know that Ayer can deliver emotional and sublime action films, Sabotage just feels like a good idea that hasn’t translated to the screen.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★

Helen Murdoch

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