A good action film is not an easy thing to create. It’s 2 parts Brawn, 1 part Violence, 1 part Brains and a pinch of car chases, explosions, love story, or mystery just to spice it up. Whether it’s a military action film, a detective one, or even a sci-fi one doesn’t matter as long as you got most of the formula in your film. Sabotage used its own unique formula putting 2 parts Brawn, 3 parts Violence, 4 parts Gore, and 1 part half-assed mystery. Mixed together you get this self-sabotaging hodgepodge that is horror film than action.
Breacher (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of an elite DEA task force (Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Mireille Enos, Mark Schlegel) that deals with the toughest cases in an unorthodox manner. Part of that process includes being corrupt and taking some of the ill-gotten money for themselves.
On a cartel safe house raid gone wrong, they lose one of their team members, and they money they steal gets taken from them by an unknown person. On top of that, they are all benched after it is discovered that there was drug money missing after their raid. After the investigation, the members of the task force are being killed off one by one. Investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) investigates the accidents-turned-murders. She quickly begins to realize that there is more to this than a simple cartel revenge killing spree. With everyone as a suspect and having no one to trust, will they find out who is behind the murders before it’s too late?
If you make it that far into the film, you won’t care. Each character, excluding Investigator Brentwood, is wholly unlikable, unrelatable, and overall obnoxious. When every character comes off as a villain, you find it hard to root for anyone to live long enough to become a hero. As they start getting killed off in increasingly gruesome ways, you’re just left watching half-engaged and counting the number of pieces each person is in. This film is one monster short of a horror movie, not to be confused with Joe Manganiello’s character “Monster”, who comes close, but no cigar.
The most disappointing part is the scattered story that is so haphazard in its approach that once it arrives to the reveal, you either already arrived there mid-movie, wishing this near 2 hour movie would end, or are more interested in how many cigars Arnold has smoked to this point. That is a shame too because I’ve come to expect engaging crime/action/dramas with great character development from writer/director David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch). I’d like to write this one off as Ayer’s failed attempt at a horror film, but the star class of actors aren’t so lucky.
Sabotage shows us that Arnold still demands respect as an action star, but even as the Terminator, he could not save this film. Ayer not only dropped the ball on this one, but he shot it, dismembered it and buried it. The only saving grace is the very competent actors who will likely try to forget their involvement in this film. I can’t say I blame them.
RATING: ★★★(3/10 stars)
IN THEATERS NOW