REVIEW — “Sabotage”
Every once in a great while an action flick comes along and knocks your socks off. “Sabotage,” unfortunately, is not that film. What had the potential to be an amazing thing, based off of “10 Little Indians” with David Ayer (“End of Watch”) directing, turned into a poorly written gun-and-guts fest that thought it was smarter than it was.
From a directorial standpoint there isn’t much more that could have been done. Ayer was true to form, and right at home, in this gritty story of a corrupt DEA Task Force, but that wasn’t enough to save it from terrible writing. His style worked really well, but the writer, Skip Woods, should be exiled from Hollywood immediately after this. While Ayer had some input he has made clear the studio wanted the focus to be on Wood’s script. Woods has now written some of the worst films in recent memory including, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “Thursday” and “The A-Team.” Ayer did all he could to salvage this mess, but it wasn’t enough.
The action scenes were well executed, and our director did his homework as always when it came to tactics of the team (Ayer is notorious for using real officers to train actors), but there wasn’t much chemistry between any of the leads. They made everything so impersonal that you couldn’t establish any emotion toward any of the characters, and they are dispatched almost as quickly as they are introduced. When you throw in the three different themes/stories happening at the same time, and the fact that none of them are fleshed out fully, you run into issues with pacing and sloppy transitions. This turns what could have been a tight thriller into a drawn-out half-assed snooze fest where you are just waiting for the next action scene.
The acting was decent at best with only Sam Worthington, DEA agent ‘Monster,’ appearing hungry for the role. He has come a long way since “Rogue,” a neat little Australian thriller you should check out, but he wasn’t enough to save this sinking ship. They did a good job designing the lead role, DEA agent ‘Breacher,’ around Arnold, since he is a terrible actor, and he was extremely enjoyable to watch, but his line delivery was painful (as always). Terrence Howard’s acting, as DEA agent ‘Sugar,’ proves, for the Nth time, that he has an amazing agent and isn’t getting roles because of his talent. The big surprise came from Olivia Williams (“An Education”), lead investigator Caroline, who seemed to have a blast with the role, and it really showed (though her accent was hard to swallow).
I appreciated the use of practical effects, as over-the-top as they were, and the realism they attempted to bring to the plot, but it doesn’t work when you have law enforcement officials inexplicably able to have wild shootouts in public places without anyone thinking twice about it. This, on top of the previously mentioned things, is why “Sabotage” is a definite pass in the theaters. With an explosive beginning and a kick-ass ending, though both appear to be from different movies, the story just drags itself down and fails. With a better writer this would have had incredible potential, but instead it falls flat on its face. Action fans will appreciate the gun fights, but not much else to love in this terd. 2.5/5