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Movie Review by Ade Braithwaite

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Martin Donovan, Harold Perrineau

Director: Harold Perrineau

SABOTAGE is a good action movie, with some great action sequences. Arnold Schwarzenegger affectionately called Arnie by his fans amongst whom I’m sort of becoming one. Not a hard core scream from the roof tops type, but more of an “if he’s in it, probably worth a watch” kind of fan.

Arnie’s later body of work suggests he is an underrated actor. In SABOTAGE he looks good as a veteran agent, tanned, part silver haired, mature hero. He has swapped muscle bulk for an intelligent portrayal of a vulnerable yet character layered action hero.

Right off the bat we see Arnie’s DEA hot-shot gang in glorious gun blazing action as they expertly breach the baddies’ fortress. A redesigned council estate with smashed through walls connects a maze of flats engaged in various states of drug induced activity and disrepair, serves as the HQ of these nameless drug lords. It irritated me how slowly Arnie’s team moved through this dangerous piece of real estate. Perhaps Arnie’s soon to be depleted team members were grabbing as much screen time as they possibly could?

The film is driven forward by Arnie’s gang siphoning off $10million from a cling-film wrapped palette stacked with drug lords’ dollar bills. The $10 million subsequently disappears which leads to the gang’s finger pointing and breaks its cohesiveness as an elite unit.

Meanwhile Arnie’s team is suspended while an internal affairs investigation into what to be honest was not clear. I probably missed something crucial but I can only guess that the death of a team member during the breach would warrant an investigation of sorts.

The team is interviewed but the digital video flat looking green hue kept reminding me of a cheap camera. Of course it could have gone horribly wrong in post-production or as is more likely the case the cinematographer got a little too arty and wanted to make those back story scenes look different for the sake of looking different. Yes green does subconsciously move us into the realms of envy but to me it was just a little too distracting.

But I digress. Who could possibly have known they had stolen $10 million especially when the palette of millions, presumably to cover their thieving handy work, was blown up. This bit of the otherwise well rounded story line jarred a little to me. The barrage of questions about where the money was, met with no answer and the suspension was eventually lifted.

I did think there were too many characters introduced at the start of this film. Some of whom were not developed much beyond the stereotypical police department’s anti-establishment ‘bad arsed police bod’. You know the sort, all out macho man, even the anorexic female gang member Lizzy (excellently played by Mireille Enos) was just as macho if not more so than the rest of the gang. Since Arnie’s gang start to get killed off one by one I was glad that I hadn’t invested too much time in getting to know some of the gang members.

The train action sequence was up there as far as action sequences go. I take my hat off to director David Ayer. A train rips through a stupidly parked RSV car on a level crossing. It really felt like you were in the RSV. Will we get out just in time and avoid the screeching rapidly looming train? Or does it all end horribly? Oh no!? He just … go see the film to find out. I also like the car chase and the chariot boot style shootout with the chasing car. The impending crash to end the chase had a great abrupt end.

Without running the risk of ruining the film for you if you’ve not seen it yet, there are a couple of nice twists in the story. This is done via some well-crafted reveals and while Arnie is not cast in his usual governor like acceptable wholesome role, you “kinda” of understand where he is coming from and all is possibly forgiven, depending on your point of view by the film’s end.

One thing I did enjoy was how it ends as a modern day western, loads of Stetsons, a smoked filled traditional Mexican bar shoot out. A big well chewed cigar stuck in Arnie’s mouth as he surveys his bleeding bullet wound. This reminded me of a modern day John Wayne. Arrh maybe not. Does our present day hero survive or slowly die? Does Arnie drift off into the distance like his last exhaled puff of smoke?

I guess you’ll just have to wait and see if Arnie signs up for a SABOTAGE sequel.

4 out of 6 stars