I’ve consulted the Oxford English Dictionary, Webster’s and even urbandictionary.com and none of them provide a definition of “Sabotage” which relates to any of the events in this flaccid, misogynistic, excessively violent and profanity-laden film.
Saved from the straight-to-DVD bargain bin by the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Sabotage” is more of a mystery thriller than the action movie the marketing and trailers would suggest however, more than that, it’s an unpleasant film brimming with gratuitous and purposeless violence and the most needlessly overblown macho posturing and testosterone-fuelled dialogue since “S.W.A.T.”(also written by David Ayer).
Everyone involved in this movie has done better work than this, and although Schwarzenegger actually delivers one of his better post-Governor performances, he alone can’t save this film. Humourless and lacking in tension, suspense or spectacle, the story of a crooked DEA squad who are being picked off one by one as part of an apparent drug cartel vendetta unfolds unevenly and at times confusingly, hinting at the studio-mandated butchering edit hinted at by director David Ayer. There are glimpses of a good plot but too often dashed by baffling character decisions and poor casting. Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Max Martini, Kevin Vance, Mark Schlegel and Josh Holloway blend into anonymously identikit foul-mouthed work hard/ play hard mercenary thugs with only their hairstyles to help distinguish them while
Terrence Howard continues his run of being one of the least likeable actors working today, without bringing anything of value to the film. The squad’s token female DEA agent (Mireille Enos) is written to be as much of a dumb, macho bro as her fellow agents, albeit with a twist of substance abuse and sex addiction (character traits which end up playing no part in the plot). She’s joined in the film by an aggressively androgynous turn by Olivia Williams as Investigator Caroline Brentwood, a police detective who begins investigating the murders of Breacher’s (Schwarzenegger’s) team. Rather than bring some balance and genuine diversity to the cast, she immediately gets involved in the swaggering, dick measuring contests which seem to be this film’s stock-in-trade. Don’t worry, though – there’s an awkward, abrupt and out of nowhere (implied) sex scene between her character and Schwarzenegger’s so you don’t think she’s a lesbian. Rounding out the cast (and making a mini-“Lost” reunion) is Harold Perrineau as Brentwood’s partner although he gets little to do but follow her around like a lapdog.
In respect of the film’s tone and execution, I’m starting to wonder what a film needs to do to get a serious certificate these days, because a film with this much swearing, violence, gore and the occasional obligatory show of tits and ass would have been a sure fire ‘18’ in its star’s eighties heyday.
Saddled with a ponderously convoluted plot, terrible dialogue and an eventual denouement that jars as much as it disappoints, this is a nasty film with little to redeem it and the only sabotage I can detect is the self-inflicted kind by everyone involved on their own careers.