I like Arnold Schwarzenegger as a star. I grew up with him as Conan the Barbarian, one of the best fantasy movies we had in the pre-Peter Jackson era. He was so iconic as Conan that he revisited it two years later in Conan the Destroyer. This version was toned down for the kiddies and mixed with a fair amount of Dungeons & Dragons but still very Arnold. He essentially reprised the role the following year as Kalidor in Red Sonja.
He IS the Terminator. Another iconic role that played to his strengths, the first two are in my favorite films list and the third is at least fun. Predator is another of my favorite films and Schwarzenegger leads a testosterone-heavy cast being stalked by an alien predator. True Lies reteamed him with James Cameron to great effect.
In the 90s, his films became very hit or miss and gradually began to decline in quality and box office receipts. I was looking forward to his return to movies after his detour into politics.
He did nice cameos in the first two Expendables movies. I really looked forward to his return to a starring role in The Last Stand. It was directed by Kim Jee-woon, whose The Good, The Bad, The Weird was a wonderful homage to American Westerns. Sadly while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t very good either.
His next shot was co-starring with Expendables star Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan. If you thought The Last Stand was ludicrous, Escape Plan takes it to another level. This brings us to his latest film, Sabotage.
Sabotage (2014) – Rated R
“Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.”
One Line Review: A world of no or, as they would say, “#%$# my $@%#, #%$^*&^%^$#@”
This time Arnold turned to writer/director David Ayer for a comeback role. David Ayer penned U-571 which, apart from the grievous insult of changing the British heroes who pulled off the actual mission into Americans, was a pretty entertaining World War II saga. He went on to write Training Day which was a gritty and wonderful tale of police corruption. Ayer apparently found that to be his niche and wrote Dark Blue and S.W.A.T. before wiritng and directing Harsh Times and End of Watch.
David Ayer writes, directs, and produces Sabotage so the ummm sabotage to this movie must be laid at his feet. I remember when dropping the F bomb was shocking. Apparently it is so commonplace now that David Ayer replaced the epithet indicating sexual congress with several indicating the act of fellatio. He was so enamored of this that I think at least a half dozen characters in Sabotage use it. I felt like it was on an audio loop.
Ayer assembled a good action cast to back up Schwarzenegger. Sam Worthington (whose leading man career never took off in spite of Avatar, Terminator Salvation, and Clash of the Titans), Josh Holloway (Lost), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), and Max Martini (Pacific Rim) all try to out-macho each other as DEA agents. They are out-machoed by Mireille Enos (The Killing) as Lizzy and Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) as Caroline.
The characters are all cardboard cutouts. Poor Mireille Enos must have been told to act something the opposite of her character in the killing. Her portrayal of an addicted DEA agent is so over the top, it doesn’t just verge on parody, it revels in it. Still at least she seems to be having fun, Terrence Howard just seems embarrassed to be in the movie.
I have heard this movie described as an action version of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None). The truth is that it is more like a bad slasher film until the killer is revealed. The movie is filled with an unreal amount of nonsense and just about the worst dialogue I have ever had to sit through.
There is a big climactic fight/chase scene that should end the movie. Unfortunately Ayer wants to wrap up the loose ends so Sabotage limps on for another quarter hour or so after the end for another action scene and ending. This final ending is just awful and I don’t mean full of awe. No spoilers but this is the most disappointing ending I have seen since Return of the King decided to have about seven different endings.