Writer/director David Ayer needs to give up his day job. Ever since becoming a big deal after Denzel Washington won Best Actor for Training Day — which Ayer only wrote — his films have definitely seen a steady decline in quality. His screenplay credits where fine before he started directing his own films — see U-571, Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, and even S.W.A.T. — but things have been downhill ever since: Harsh Times, Street Kings, End of Watch. Now, he’s somehow convinced Arnold Schwarzenegger to star in his worst film yet: Sabotage.
Reportedly based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Schwarzenegger plays Breacher, the leader of a DEA task force. The film opens with a huge shootout in a Mexican cartel safe house where Breacher and his team hide away $10 million before blowing the rest up. Come to find out, someone has stolen their money. Now, Breacher and company are under investigation, the team disbanded, and he’s stuck in a desk job.
Months later, his boss reinstates him after interest is lost in the case, and now Breacher — along with “Monster” (Sam Worthington); Lizzy (Mireille Enos); “Sugar” (Terrence Howard); “Grinder” (Joe Manganiello); “Neck” (Josh Holloway); “Pyro” (Max Martini); and “Tripod” (Kevin Vance) — are getting killed off one by one and Breacher must find out who’s behind it. Meanwhile, homicide Investigator Caroline (Olivia Williams) and Jackson (Harold Perrineau-yes, there are two Lost actors in this thing) are trying to assist, with Breacher using them to stay one step ahead.
Let’s get one thing straight, as soon as you cast Schwarzenegger in any movie, convoluted should be the first thing thrown out the window. Your target audience just isn’t going to be enticed to wallow through the sordid plot twists Ayer and the true saboteur, co-writer Skip Woods (Die Hard 5, The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitman, Swordfish), seem to be making it up as the film plods along. Let alone the level of gratuitous violence feels like it would have been more at home in a Final Destination movie; it’s completely uncalled for in a Schwarzenegger vehicle.
Had the film been an exciting thrill ride, the violence could have been easier to swallow. Sabotage starts out with a heavy sense of humor, but as it progresses it starts to take itself way too seriously. At least Schwarzenegger does what he does best, delivering machismo and dryly unintentionally hilarious lines. Although after the third “Get down!” it starts to become tedious. And seeing him work a desk job is as visually hilarious as it was Mr. Incredible. The rest of the cast are completely wasted or downright awful. Manganiello was obviously cast to wear sleeveless shirts and Enos is the worst as the drug-addicted party girl of the team. A Razzie Award is easily in her future.
Needless to say, Sabotage is bound to be simply another blip on Schwarzenegger’s continuing saga to get back into the Hollywood game. And hopefully, he can get back on track with the upcoming zombie film Maggie, and stepping back into his most iconic roles in Terminator 5 and The Legend of Conan. It’s sad that after Escape Plan, The Last Stand, and now Sabotage, even the announced Twins sequel (Triplets) sounds better than what he’s been starring in lately. C’mon Schwarzenegger, even you are better than this.
Photos courtesy Open Road Films