Written by / 4/01/2014 / No comments / , ,

ARNOLD IS BACK AGAIN IN SABOTAGE

year: 2014 rating: ***1/2
Back when Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in TRUE LIES, there’s an appearance by Charlton Heston, a brief nod to the top action star of years gone past… And it’s ironic that Heston, in a passive, throwaway role, wasn’t much older than Arnold, playing an active leader of an elite DEA squad, is now… So much for a cozy-cameo retirement...

And just to mention one more nostalgic Arnold flick: In COMMANDO his former military squad is killed off within the first five minutes, and this is the entire plot of SABOTAGE, in which Arnold’s John “Breacher” Wharton loses his unit, one by one, to an unknown cartel after they rob a safe house.

Breacher’s group consists of a small handful of rowdy men, chock full of stripper-loving testosterone and spouting the dumbest dialogue heard from an ensemble cast... And it's not entirely a boy's club...

As Lizzy, an over the top, drug-spun wild card you wouldn’t bring home to mother, father, or even a drunk uncle, actress Mireille Enos stands out while most of the dudes, including Josh Holloway and Sam Worthington, all seem very similar: one can only hoot, holler and curse so much and remain a distinguished, memorable character. Even when several turn up dead, it's hard to feel much of anything.

In the lead, Arnold gives a subdued performance, sharing the stage with deadpan Federal Agent Caroline (Olivia Williams), having to deal with the roughneck unit and witnessing grotesque crime scenes that she, like the audience and unlike Breacher, aren’t familiar with: Through her eyes we experience most of the shock and intrigue.

There's an abundance of standard handheld camera shots that are never too shaky nor distracting from the suspense, while the pivotal deaths are creative flashbacks occurring simultaneously within the investigation during each aftermath. And finally, after a mysterious 11th hour whodunit "twist" plays out, a showdown separates Arnold from the rest of the cast: violently quenching a vendetta subplot like the good old days.
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