Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: Sabotage
Sabotage | Value for money: $$$
- Directed by David Ayer.
- Written by Skip Woods.
- Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams.
Sabotage is when Arnold finally goes all dark. And grizzled. You have to say grizzled with this because he has grey stubble. And he looks worn out and mean.
Still, you don’t get to be one of the greatest actors of your generation without some acting chops. Plus his character has just been watching video of his wife being tortured and cut into bits by a Mexican drug cartel. He has a right to look peeved.
In Sabotage he leads a bunch of undercover Federal agents who start things rolling with a relatively murderous assault on the cartel’s lavish safe house in Atlanta. They kill a looooot of people, and then they skim off $10m from a big pile ‘o cash, pop it into the sewage system and then destroy the rest to cover their tracks. Alas, when they go to retrieve the loot, it has been stolen. For some reason this really angers them.
They all get stood down as there is an investigation into the whole thing. Not so much into the vast amount of carnage they wreaked, more the fact that they probably pinched some money. And then members of the team start being killed. Is it an elite Guatemalan special forces squad? (Apparently they have them.) Or is it one of the team? Or is it the drug cartel who were peeved at the carnage AND the loss of all their money.
Olivia Williams is a cop who is trying to solve the murder of Arnie’s team members and gets romantically linked to Arnie. (All right, his character’s name is Bleacher, but who the hell remembers his characters’ names?)
There are twists, murders, shootouts, fart jokes, some boobies, more killings, some great stunt work and more artificial blood than some smaller countries manufacture in a whole year. (Probably more than Guatemala, but most likely less than Belgium).
Is it a good film? Yep.
Critical objections to it tend to focus on the violence, the gore, and the Guatemalan quantities of fake blood. But it’s not as graphic as, say, Saving Private Ryan, and as blood does make its presence felt when big knives get plunged into bodies, I’d say it has a reasonable plot presence.
The problem with the film is one of expectation.
Arnie’s team is, from the start, crooked. Sure, they put their lives on the line to stop crime for a yearly salary so no doubt are tempted to steal from drug cartels, but that’s the name of the game, kids.
Then, they turn out to be a bunch of drunken, obnoxious dickheads. Fr’instance, they punch out the security guy at a nudie bar because he tried to stop them behaving like drunken obnoxious dickheads.
But this is kind of the point of this movie. The actual team have been corrupted by the drugs, the violence, their blind devotion to Arnie. They have become those who they seek to destroy. (I think that was Nietzsche, or someone off Shortland Street last week.)
The only worthy characters are Olivia Williams and her cop partner as they try and track down the killer(s).
Arnie’s character remains a puzzlement. Is he bad, or good, working to save his team or doing something most awful.
This is where the Blu-ray extras really matter. (Warning: Plot thingies here!!) The alternate endings and deleted scenes show the original version of Bleacher being a monster who has lost all his moral marbles. It was probably weeping by true Arnie fans during test screenings which saw a change of direction.)
It’s well made, smart and tough minded. Very few people make it out alive. (If you include the extras footage as canonical to the Sabotage universe, then NOBODY gets out.)
Even innocent bystanders cop it in this. Usually there can be a car chase and they swerve all around the mundanes. Not in this. A poor cyclist cops it a beauty.