American audiences have proven that
they don’t mind watching a very bloody shoot-‘em-up, but there needs to
be a reason, or else you’re just watching someone else play a violent
video game. Because we all know
it’s not real. So there has to be
some other angle: some compelling
story, some character to root for, some kid to rescue, some jaded person to
find their humanity somewhere along the way.
Well, unfortunately for
“Sabotage,” none of these things happen.
What does happen is it begins with a torture scene.
Normally, I would walk out right there, and maybe should have, except
at least the person viewing the torture video doesn’t seem to be enjoying
it. Just remembering it, like he’s shoring up his resolve to exact his
revenge. And that is exactly the plot of this movie, though it manages to
hide it under a fusillade of automatic weapons fire and car chase scenes and
tough guys outmuscling other tough guys.
It seems that there is a DEA special
task force, designed to infiltrate gangs. Needless
to say, it’s risky business, but at least there’s the twist that one of
the infiltrators is a sexy woman, Lizzy (Mireille Enos), who literally
removes her “come-hither” lingerie in order to strap on the bulletproof
vest of the assault team. So this is
the new feminism?
Next thing we know, our bad-hombre DEA
SWAT force has summarily dispatched the bad guys, and is busy finding the
purloined money, so they can….steal some of it?
Yes, it appears that they had a little extra payday in mind for
themselves. And ten million dollars
of the illegal stash turns up missing, so everybody’s after them:
not just their own bosses, but the cartel’s, as well.
When members of their formerly
close-knit group start being eliminated one by one, naturally, there’s
some finger-pointing among them, as well, but the cohesion is (barely)
maintained by their “steady-as-a-rock” leader, “Breacher” (Arnold
Scharzenegger). Now, since his return
to acting after his famous stint as Governor (only in
), and following his loud, messy divorce, he’s deftly utilized a sense of
humor about an “older” guy being an action hero.
But somehow here he forgets that he’s a walking contradiction, and
shows us his calisthenics instead (but
, the skin on your upper arms is still wrinkled, just like the rest of us
senior citizens). Well, at least he
can still preen with a cigar with the best of them.
As for the course of the movie, is
there such a thing as violence porn? Where
we see gratuitous blood-spattering just because we can?
Yeah, there’s a little bit of raucous sex, but not anything
resembling love. And even our forlorn
violence junkies seem to know the difference.
The viewer doesn’t really understand
the plot machinations until the end, which is one sign of a good story, but
unfortunately there’s just nobody to root for here, and those who go to
movies for light-hearted entertainment will find exactly the opposite:
some tight-lipped obsession with vengeance, no matter who stands in
the way. It’s not a pretty sight.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,