Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t strut through action films these days. And no amount of editing can hide that no, grandpa can’t kick doors down any more. Or fake it.
Even his line-readings have a fatigue that suggests he’s kind of over it.
“Aye trust you mitt my life! Ve are still a family!”
A once-bulky big boy of Hollywood’s steroid era, these days he just lumbers into scenes, chomping a cigar, and tries to let the younger, bigger actors carry the load.
Especially in “Sabotage,” a stupidly-titled actioner that, like its star, lumbers along between shoot-outs, gory crime scenes and glib, off-color one-liners. This dark turn in the Arnie oeuvre is by the guy who did “Training Day” and “End of Watch.” But watching this head-slappingly stupid movie is an exercise is seeing David Ayer sucked into the drain that Arnold’s been spiraling down ever since his “comeback.”
Schwarzenegger plays Breacher, the head of a DEA Special Operations Team, a gonzo gang of buff thugs with big guns and cute nicknames that they trot out in every slow-footed operation they mount.
When we meet Breacher, Monster (Sam Worthington), his macho wife Lizzy (Mireille Enos), Sugar (Terrence Howard), Grinder (Joe Manganiello Tripod, Neck, Pryo and Smoke, they’re shooting their way into an Atlanta mansion run by a drug lord. And they’re robbing him.
They stash the cash, but it disappears. Their bosses know there’s missing money. A long investigation (lots of grainy interrogation video) later, nobody’s charged. They get off with a scolding.
“The only thing anybody in law enforcement has is their credibility.”
That’ll teach’em. But then, the members of the team start meeting gruesome, spectacular deaths — by train, by nail gun. The movie spares us nothing, from the crime scenes to the grisly autopsies.
An Atlanta cop, played by British actress Olivia Williams (“An Education”) slinging a Georgia accent, may be out of her depth. But she persists in trying to get the surviving members to tell her who is doing this, and why.
“Assume ah’m stupid,” she drawls. “Paint me a picture!”
Ayer plays around with time lines, having the cop and the not-exactly-disgraced Breacher enter crime scenes which flash-back to the actual events of the murder. Ayer throws a loopy chase through downtown Atlanta into the mix.
And he and co-writer Skip Woods pour an enormous effort into the Budweiser, bullets and strip bars milieu that this “team” wallows in. Enos, of TV’s “The Killing,” aquits herself well — a tough broad amongst tough guys.
“Why don’chew go play Daddy somewhere else?”
Manganiello, all tattoos and corn rows, stands out as well. “We could be drinkin’ beer an’ throwin’ dollars at something NAKED!”
Worthington has elaborate biker facial hair and an accent (He’s Australian) that comes and goes. “Avatar II” may not rescue his career after all.
It’s more a botched Ayer movie than a retro Arnie adventure, but there are elements of both dragging this down. Extreme, graphic violence and a serious anti-law enforcement ethos mixed with flippant gun slingers executing bad guys and dropping the occasional bystander, giving more thought to their “zingers” than the body count.
“Clean-up on aisle three!”
“Sabotage” makes you wonder, with nothing but flop star vehicles made for smaller and smaller studios since he turned 65, when this worn out Austrian war horse will be put out to pasture.
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Harold Perrineau
Credits: Directed by David Ayer, written by Skip Woods and David Ayer. An Open Road release.
Running time: 1:37
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