David Ayer’s ‘Sabotage’ was sold as a ‘balls to the wall’ action flick in the trailers, but comes off more as a ‘Ten little Indians’ whodunnit, and originally was even titled ‘Ten’ instead of the obvious current moniker. A squad of elite Drug Enforcement Agents led by Breacher (Schwarzenegger), who partake in all the excesses they also help take down, are accused of pilfering $10 million from their last drug bust. The catch being that though they did steal the money, someone got to their stash, before they could get their hands on any of it. Six months after the incident, with their names finally cleared, the team is active again, but then it begins. One by one they are picked off in the most gruesome fashion possible and though the needle of suspicion initially points towards the cartel they stole from, it doesn’t take long for them to suspect one of them is actually the killer.
Arnold is given a role with much more gravitas than he’s used to and though he tries pretty hard at conveying all the emotions (pain, surprise, satisfaction, etc), they all converge to one form; a blank smug-ish sort of look complemented by a cigar held firmly between his teeth. The ensemble around him fares way better even if their characters and motivations are poorly developed (Worthington, Manganiello). There are others like Josh Holloway (Lost’s Sawyer) and Terrence Howard, who get almost no screen time at all. Only Mireille Enos as the perpetual drug abusing femme fatale has a lively presence.
The action is pedestrian and Ayer’s tries an unconvincing mixture of a procedural documentary style camerawork and loud 80s style kaboom with locations best suited for a television show. There is the gore (too much of it), there is the foul language (too much again), the edginess and bravado but none of it adds anything to the plot or characters other than making them seem like a bunch of unlikable grunts. Same goes for the investigating officer played by Olivia Williams, trying to be a tough nut, but wastes no time in sleeping with Breacher without a hint of attraction. Her partner gets it worse, who keeps on cracking terrible jokes and inquiring about the size of Breacher’s “thing’?
I get it looking at Ayer’s past record that he wanted to have a more “realistic” take on the kind of people and their work his movie populates itself with. Hence the documentary style camerawork, the pointless foulmouthed banter, the ordinary locales but the plot itself doesn’t benefit from the whole exercise. If anything it undermines what suspense and mystery the plot may be attempting to throw your way.
Give this hyperviolent, mess of a mystery thriller a miss, all it has is bore and gore.