Despite the addition of guns and gore, Sabotage is little more than another riff on And Then There Were None, a fine thriller by Agatha Christie. A group of people are invited to come together, their numbers start to dwindle, and everyone wonders whodunnit. I'm not sure if Christie first came up with the concept, in fact I highly doubt it, but she seemed to package everything in a way that was much more desirable to mass consumers. Unlike David Ayer, who seems to package everything in layers of unpleasantness and misanthropy. That sometimes pays off, and I actually like most of his movies, but not in this case.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the leader of a crack undercover team of DEA agents. They kick down doors where angels fear to tread. And the film opens with them setting themselves up for a nice payday. They're raiding a major drug den, containing a MAJOR pile of money, and skimming about $10M off the top for themselves. Unfortunately, the money then goes missing, the team are investigated, and nobody is happy as they are forced to spend a fair bit of time sitting on their hands, as it were. Things could be looking up, however, when the investigation is ended and the team can go back to doing what they do best. Which is when someone starts killing them off, one by one. And it must be someone good, because these guysare trained to stay alive in some dangerous situations.
Starting off strong, the first 5-10 minutes are pretty great, Sabotage quickly starts dropping in quality with each scene, all the way to a finale that it's hard to care about. That's not to say that there aren't moments of easy entertainment. The nasty deaths are a highlight, and you do (or . . . . should, hopefully) at least want to find out who the killer is. It's just a shame that the rest is such a mess, with a script, written by Ayers and Skip Woods, as weak as any I can think of in recent years. The macho posturing bullshit starts to grate after that opening is over and done, and that's pretty much all that the rest of the movie has to offer.
If you want an object lesson in how to waste a potentially great cast then this is a movie to watch with a pen and notepad beside you. Arnie is the leader of the gang, so he fares better than the rest, but Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Max Martini and Kevin Vance are just one mass of muscular douchebags waiting for their potential deaths. Enos is particularly ill-treated, especially considering what a kick-ass first impression she makes in the opening sequence. And we get poor Olivia Williams struggling, both with an American accent and the fact that she has to be a tough investigating officer one moment and then warming to big Arnie the next. In comparison, Harold Perrineau, playing her partner, comes out of the whole thing relatively unscathed. Relatively.
You get some gunfire, you get some blood and guts, you get the eye-rollingly frustrating cliche of tough men and women who work hard and play hard, and you get one or two minor twists to enjoy. What you don't get are characters that you'll enjoy spending time with. Not a one, which leads to the growing apathy that will stay with you even during those last 20 minutes or so. You may as well watch the Beastie Boys video instead, which is much more fun.