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Sabotage (Arnold Schwarzenegger) - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Ayer promised to offer something different from the normal Arnie action routine. But despite some interesting elements, this is a thriller that largely struggles to deliver.

Ayer imbues the film with the same unflinching approach to violence and dialogue as he did to outstanding effect in End of Watch and (to a lesser extent) Street Kings but also feels obliged to include those Arnie elements.

He also includes a particularly sadistic streak that makes the 15 certificate hard to believe and which sometimes leaves an unpleasant taste.

The plot finds Schwarzenegger playing John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, the head of an elite DEA unit, who orchestrate a daring heist to rip off a notorious drug cartel of $10 million and split the proceeds between them.

When the money goes missing and members of his unit start getting bumped off in grisly fashion, Breacher must work out whether the threat comes from the vengeful cartel (which is also responsible for the death of his wife) or from within his own ranks.

Admittedly, Sabotage has plenty in its arsenal, including a strong supporting cast that extends to The Killing‘s Mereille Enos, True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello and Avatar‘s Sam Worthington, but is found wanting on a number of levels.

First and foremost, Skip Woods’ script – co-penned by Ayer – struggles to make much sense the longer it lasts and struggles to deliver a decent character. Hence, while Enos and Manganiello put in some good work, they are never afforded enough time to make it count.

Schwarzenegger, for his part, has a certain amount of fun portraying a morally questionable character but also feels a little out of his depth in places and is clearly more at ease once the action kicks in. Similarly oddly cast is Olivia Williams, whose sassy, tough-talking detective struggles to convince.

Ayer, meanwhile, attempts to compensate for the script’s shortcomings by ramping up the set pieces and investing them with his trademark edgy feel. But some of the violence feels unnecessarily lingering and even distasteful, especially once the film has revealed its hand.

On the one hand, Ayer seems to want to show the harsh reality of the frontline war against the cartels, but on the other he wants to cover them in an Arnie shoot ‘em up that offers more than a passing resemblance, especially late on, to his work in the forgettable Collateral Damage.

Overall, this is a film that keeps sabotaging itself and which has to rate as one of the biggest disappointments of Arnie’s career.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 113mins
UK Release Date: May 7, 2014