Nobody goes to an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie hoping to experience a cinematic epiphany.
And so I headed to the theatre to watch the former body builder’s new movie Sabotage after reining in my expectations.
My decision to see the film was based solely on my fondness for David Ayer, writer of Training Day (Denzel Washington got the Best Actor Oscar), director/writer of the 2012 cop film End of Watch and now director/co-writer of Sabotage.
Sabotage – Not Very Bad
To my great surprise, Arnold notwithstanding the crime thriller was not half as bad as I expected.
The early part was no great shakes and seemed to confirm my expectation that this was going to be yet another tiresome bang, bang, bang, bang, bang blood and gore Awwnauld film.
But after providing some context of a band of undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents headed by John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold, who else), his sad back story and the agents’ daredevil work against drug cartels, the movie gets into suspense thriller mode all the way to a surprising finale.
Arnold is 66, looks 75, and long past the age to be playing “Alpha-Male, Testosterone” roles. Drang, that’s the only stuff Arnold knows about the movie business!
Being a smart kitty, director David Ayer has Arnold working on the periphery of the heavy-artillery bunch in Sabotage.
In what must count as a rarity, Ayer’s Sabotage has Arnold playing second fiddle behind the trigger.
After a bloody attack against a cartel kingpin’s lair by Breacher and his men, $10 million of the drug gang’s money goes missing. Breacher’s team is grounded, investigated and reinstated.
But the theft of the money still remains a mystery.
Hunting the Hunters
And then the undercover DEA agents start dying one by one in horrific ways (crushed by a train, nailed to the ceiling etc).
All bloody gory stuff.
The money is still missing.
So who’s hunting the undercover cops?
The money is still missing.
Tough cop Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) doggedly trying to get to the bottom of the murders gets a jolt when she hears of the missing money.
Olivia Williams and Mireille Enos (who plays Lizzy Murray, one of the DEA agents) are the two bright spots in a movie that does not have much of a plot or anything remotely credible. (Even after granting considerable cinematic license, the DEA agents and their undercover operations look hopelessly unconvincing.)
The roles of the two women are antipodes – one is a cool, composed, dogged investigator and the other a wild, unhinged undercover DEA agent. Unfortunately, there’s little interaction between these two. Better writing would have thrust the two into a nice psychological confrontation.
Director Ayer does a decent job keeping the suspense of the missing money and who’s behind the vicious murders of the agents.
Photography was alright but nothing to get excited about (I’m not a great fan of closeups of people on large screens).
It’s the suspense over the killings and the missing money, and performances of Olivia and Mireille that make Sabotage endurable.
Oddly, there were just four people in the hall for the opening show of Sabotage on Thursday night!
Not a good augury!