Oh warning, spoilers follow, in case you have a burning need to not know vague plot points of a movie you will never bother seeing.
It really should be illegal to have an unadvertised movie be called Sabotage and not feature a single Beastie Boys song. I mean, I don’t really like the Beastie Boys but they’re a bit catchy, and will at least entertain you for three minutes at a stretch.
Instead we get an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. Those probably should be illegal too. It’s not because his age is really starting to show - and there’s a gratuitous scene of him at the gym lifting weights for a minute or so that demonstrates he could annihilate most men thirty years his junior with ease - so much as the fact that the guy just can’t act. This shouldn’t be a surprise, the sample size for that study is decidedly large-n at this point. After all those years and films you think he could have learned something, if only by osmosis. Ah well, at least it keeps him from bugging the maid.
But seriously, look at the talent they stacked up around him in terms of name brand actors who can get plenty of paychecks without resorting to films like this in general: Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway. I mean they’re not necessarily Oscar winners across the board, but it’s one of those weird movies where without trying, you recognize every single actor whose character is actually given a name.
On the other hand this old guy and his wife, who were the only other ones in the theater, they seemed to really enjoy it. In fact on walking out, I held the door for the two of them and he pronounced, “that was badass, huh?” I told him it was indeed. That’s called respecting your elders, take some notes.
Anyway, the film isn’t actually that terrible. It actually makes a decent stab at taking itself seriously and setting up a mystery within mystery sort of thing. This elite (aren’t they always, except in comedies) team of DEA super studs (and one studette of course) conspires to steal 10 million bucks. Problem is, when they go to pick up the stash, someone else has stolen it. And then they start getting killed in creative ways. It does a decent enough job keeping its cards close and playing them out one by one as twists, but that’s sort of what you expect from a director like David Ayer. The guy who brought us End of Watch should be elevating this sort of source material, the bigger question is why he’s bothering at all with this sort of poor man’s action thriller.
Look, it’s a film that gives us Joe Manganiello (who you might recognize from his role on True Blood as “werewolf who doesn’t own shirts”) in cornrows. Why? I don’t know, but this picture is for you:
It’s also a film that gives us Sam Worthington channeling something so hard with his weird little braided goatee, that I swear I thought that this was Fred Durst making his acting debut right up until I doublechecked the cast list while looking this up:
You just can’t look away from those two pictures, can you?
So what we end up with is a hard-R action movie that actually bothers to take itself seriously. It’s entertaining enough as far as things go, in fact it’s pretty much an eighties action movie. And I don’t mean the tongue-in-cheek joke like The Expendables, but a blood spattered shoot-em-up with occasional toplessness for the cheap seats. They don’t make movies like this anymore, not with the Internet and a hundred better and cheaper options on the big screen at home. Cable killed the hard-R action movie, so this thing is really something of a throwback.
Should you pay money to see this? Oh god no. But if someone gave you a free ticket you might as well go. That’s probably the only way you’d ever see it, because it will disappear from any memory by the time it hits DVD or Netflix, and the hard-R means it’ll never see the light of day on TNT or some such to be caught on Saturday afternoon channel flipping.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.