What do you get when you combine Arnold Schwarzenegger, “End of Watch” and “A Good Day to Die Hard”? The answer is “Sabotage”, the new Arnie movie from the director of “Watch” David Ayer, and the writer of “Good Day”, Skip Woods. Schwarzenegger stars as the leader of an elite DEA task force who must find out who is killing the members of his team after they bust a cartel safe house. Ayer directs.
The commercials for “Sabotage” have been a little misleading in that it brags it is “from the writer of Training Day”. While this is true, Ayer did write “Training Day”, he merely did touchups on “Sabotage”. The true screenwriter is Skip Woods, who wrote such gems as “Die Hard 5”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Hitman” (in case you are unfamiliar with those films they’re all awful, and I was being sarcastic). If you want your films to feature a organized plot, characters with depth, or sentences that make sense, then Woods probably isn’t high on your radar.
Besides being a poor screenwriter, no one knows anything about Woods. I kid you not, Google him. There are no pictures or any biographical information on him. There is even a conspiracy on whether the guy actually exists. The one thing that is known is he has not written a good movie.
So at face value “Sabotage” shouldn’t work. It was written by the genius of awful Woods, and stars Schwarzenegger, who has never been a fantastic actor, as well as a bunch of other actors who you probably recognize but could not name. But thanks to steady direction from Ayer, I found myself enjoying the majority of the film.
When characters have guns in their hands, “Sabotage” is immensely entertaining and very well shot. Much like the other films he has directed like “Street Kings” and “End of Watch”, Ayer knows where to creatively put a camera in order to place the audience in the action, and you get your money’s worth.
Schwarzenegger doesn’t do a bad job, either. He plays a man who is out for revenge after the Mexican cartel kidnapped his wife and kid, as well as trying to evade whoever is taking out the members of his team. He has his share of chuckle inducing one-liners, as well as his signature cigar smoking (in practically every scene).
The largest issues with “Sabotage” lay mostly with its script. Aside from Arnold, none of the characters are likable. They all are angry, selfish and ignorant individuals, as well as underdeveloped, so when they begin to get killed by the cartel you simply don’t care. Like at all. The movie also tries to have a big plot twist ending but then makes no effort whatsoever in explaining how or why what just happened in fact happened.
There are also two scenes that are very awkwardly edited. In one, you see Arnold and his partner approaching a house, guns drawn, and then see the man they’re looking for gunned down by assailants. Then suddenly it cuts back to Arnold finding the dead man, and apparently the man had been killed several days prior. It took me out of the movie and came off as somewhat lazy.
With a film like “Sabotage” you have to take the good with the bad. When guns are going off, the film is fun, exciting and very well made. The problem is the other half of the movie is a wannabe political thriller involving the DEA and internal affairs and who knows what else (Skip Woods certainly didn’t know, and he wrote it).
Usually I criticize action films for being nothing more than shoot-em-ups, but there was something about “Sabotage” that made me enjoy the film, much more than I’m sure it had any right to be liked.
Critics Rating: 6/10