“Sabotage” is 109 minutes of violence, crude language, and knuckle-headed plotting that is trying so hard to be gritty it ends up feeling forced most of the time. We get to follow a rogue’s gallery of losers who are somehow supposedly America’s secret weapon in the war against drugs, the DEA’s best undercover agents. They are such completely unlikable characters that it took a good 40 minutes before I was involved in what was going on, and that was only after FBI agents Olivia Williams’ “Caroline” and Harold Perrineau’s “Jackson” showed up to provide some much needed humanity — such as it is – since they’re no angles, either. Sadly, they are saddled with the same excuse for dialog as the rest of the cast, which was supposed to pass for witty repartee amongst a band of brothers.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, a grizzled old agent whose wife and son were kidnapped, tortured and killed (and all on videotape, which he gets sent to him) by an infamous Mexican drug cartel in response to his apprehending one of their own. Breacher’s now out for major payback, or at least a major paycheck; as he arrangements for his team of mini-Expendables to steal some 10 million from the aforementioned Cartel. Too bad someone steals it back from them before they get to enjoy it (or is it one of them stealing form their own team members?), and they are nearly broken up in the ensuing internal investigation into such obvious corruption.
But the investigation dries up and the team is reinstated, just in time to be killed off one by one by the Cartel, which Williams investigates. The Cartel as bad guy is convincing, and only together with Williams does the the movie find any kind of footing. But as the title suggests, when the true sabotage rears its head, the third act becomes almost laughable when the Cartel turns out to be a red herring.
Dramatic acting was never Schwarzenegger’s strong suit, and the only time he seems to be at home is during the climatic final showdown, which still can’t lift this depressing ode to Yoko breaking up the band out of the muck. Williams is the best part of a below-average movie, and in the end, even her character is undermined by the silly hand she’s dealt.
The moral? Don’t do drugs, kids; and don’t see this movie, either.
Rich’s Movie Grade: C-
Directed by: David Ayer
Written by: Skip Woods, David Ayer