After a questionable political career as the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger is very much an actor again. Even Arnold's age can only be identified through the use of high-powered electron microscopes, the beefy thespian has been been making a ton of movies recently -- from the Sylvester Stallone team-up movie "Escape Plan" (woof) to the never-ending "Expendables" movies (the third is due out in August). The latest is "Sabotage," a murder mystery action movie set in the world of the DEA.
The movie has a pretty loaded roster of bad-asses in the form of supporting actors Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Harold Perrineau, Martin Donovan, Max Martini and Josh Holloway, all of whom pack plenty of firepower (if you know what I mean) with Mireille Enos and Olivia Williams ensuring that it's not a total sausage fest. There are many, many cases of ammunition spent in this movie.
So, is "Sabotage" worth the price of admission, or should you just stay home and watch Arnold in "True Lies" (again)? Read on to find out.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.
1. It's Based on an Agatha Christie Story (Yes, Seriously)
One of the oddly kept secrets about "Sabotage" is that it's based on the influential Agatha Christie story "And Then There Were None." (The original title for the movie was "Ten," a play on "Ten Little Indians.") So, if you've read the Christie story, you'll sort of know what is going on and where the major beats will be, although I'm pretty sure nobody was nailed to a ceiling and impaled in the Christie story. Or maybe they were.
2. There's Nearly a 'Lost' Reunion
Harold Perrineau and Josh Holloway, who played Michael and Sawyer, respectively, on ABC's smash mystery series "Lost," both have costarring roles in "Sabotage." Sadly, they never share a scene together. We were hoping for a little "Lost" reunion, improbably wishing for a scenario that would require Perrineau to scream "Waaaaaaaaalt" at the top of his lungs for no apparent reason.
3. You'll Get to Watch Arnold Do Everyday Things
Hey -- ever want to see Arnold pop Pop Tarts? What about type on a keyboard (it looks like he's working on some kind of spreadsheet no less)? Well, you'll get to see him do a lot of mundane everyday things, especially since, for almost the entire first act of the movie, he's out of the field and stuck in civilian life, where the rest of us tiny humans spend our days. But don't worry. He gets the team back together and people start getting shot in the head again soon enough.
4. There Are a Lot of Goofy Hairstyles
For some reason, if you're a member of an undercover team of DEA hard-asses, it's required that you have a ridiculous hairstyle. Arnold has some weird Nazi youth 'do, Sam Worthington is bald with a goatee that's fit for an Insane Clown Posse enthusiast, Joe Manganiello sports white-man cornrows (always a good look), Terrence Howard is crowned with an enviable doo-wop swoop, Josh Holloway has a white trash Fu Manchu mustache and Mireille Enos rocks what may be the worst dye job this side of the Mason Dixon line. If the movie was set in Baltimore, this would make a lot more sense (it is, purely for tax credit reasons, filmed in Atlanta).
5. Arnold Has a Lot of Great One-Liners
Back when I was in high school, there was a soundboard that people would use. It was full of Arnold one-liners, only a handful of which made sense in any kind of normal form of communication. People (usually punk kids around my age) would use the soundboard and prank call people with the canned Arnold one-liners. It was funny. Or, at the very least, "funny." There are some pretty good Arnold one-liners in this movie, although none are safe to print on a family website like Moviefone.
6. It's Abhorrently Violent
The violence in "Sabotage" is ugly and depressing and monotonous. There are a lot of squishy dead bodies and torture and people strung up. One person describes a particularly violent scene as a "meat shower." Yeah, I too wish I could un-hear that. The worst part is that the violence in "Sabotage" doesn't say anything, besides "hey, look at how that body part can splatter like so much warm spaghetti." Even as a fan of violent movies, I was turned off. And that's really saying something.
7. The Attitude Towards Women Is Incredibly Problematic
Even if "Sabotage" succeeded in being the muscle-bound murder mystery that it's supposed to be, it would falter at the point of its portrayal of women, which is incredibly problematic. The movie seems to have open contempt for women -- not just the women in the movie but womankind as a whole. A red flag was raised early on when, during a sequence set at a drug kingpin's lavish estate, two topless women are making out in the most porno movie way possible. There are at least two scenes with female strippers and endless jokes about how the prosecuting FBI agent (played by the always wonderful Olivia Williams) is a prostitute. The misogyny coats the movie like an oily slime.
8. 'The Last Stand' Was Better
Early last year, Arnold starred in a movie called "The Last Stand." In it, Arnold played an age-appropriate role: a sheriff of a dusty southwestern town that gets in over his head when a big time baddie shows up. It was directed, with some flair, by genius South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon, and occasionally pushed things to agreeably surreal places. Watch that movie instead of "Sabotage." It needs your love.
9. Shaky Cam Needs to Be Discontinued
The action sequences in "Sabotage," ostensibly one of the movie's big selling points, are incoherently photographed and staged, full of jittery micro-edits that leave you even more discombobulated and uneasy. This is not the way that action should be directed. The shaky cam phenomenon, initiated by the "Bourne" movies, has run its course. Please. Can we bring back action movies where the geography is clear and the spatial relationships are well defined?
10. There Are a Bunch of Confusing Flashbacks
Occasionally, writer/director David Ayer throws in some really confusing flashbacks, where Arnold and Olivia Williams (painfully underutilized, it should be noted) are poking around a crime scene and the crime plays out at the same time. It's so clunky that it ends up just being confusing. Like "Sabotage" as a whole, it could have been cool. But it's not.
"Sabotage" hits theaters March 28. Photo courtesy Open Road Films.