Published on April 7th, 2014 | by Chris Scott0
Summary: Sabotage, is something different.
For over a year now action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger has been attempting to make a career comeback. His first two films, The Last Stand and Escape Plan, struggled at the domestic box office. Both of those films were bombastic action extravaganzas firmly in Arnold’s wheelhouse. His third new starring vehicle, Sabotage, is something different.
Written and directed by David Ayer, the man behind 2012 gritty buddy cop drama End of Watch, Sabotage is an ensemble piece that just so happens to have Arnold leading the way. And he does in fact lead the way as Breacher, the head of DEA strike force filled with an assortment of questionable characters. Those characters are played by a brilliant collection of actors that include Josh Holloway, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos.
From the opening of the film, Breacher and his team play both sides of the law as they stage a strike on a drug cartel’s safe house while skimming a little off the top for themselves. Like any sort of shady deal in a film like this, everything seemingly goes bad at once. The money they took goes missing, the team gets investigated for corruption, and the absolute trust the team had in each other is flushed down the toilet.
Ayer’s set up feels akin to putting on a blindfold and spinning around 10 times. Questions arise at every turn and no clear answers are ever given. Did someone on the team steal the money for themselves? Is the team going to hunt down who stole it? And then team members start turning up dead. Who is killing them and why?
As the investigation deepens, everything seems to point at Breacher. But then, elite mercenaries enter the picture, once again muddying the trail. Ayer peppers the mystery with so many red herrings it becomes hard to keep track of what is actually true. This would all be fine if the payoff for it all actually worked. But instead the film stumbles when the reveal turns out to be a double twist, the more important part of which isn’t justified at all by the plotline.
The ending being so sloppy is unfortunate because up until that point I was really enjoying the way things were playing out. The story was captivating. The acting was engaging, particularly the performance from Enos. But the entire film hinges on an unearned payoff that spins the film in an unlikeable direction. It spoils the preceding actions to the point that I felt cheated out of two hours of my life when I left the screening. And Arnold should feel cheated too because he clearly stepped outside his comfort zone admirably. He delivered a solid performance alongside a great cast of actors but Ayer’s Taco Supreme approach to this story just didn’t work out in the end.