Not since 1987’s Predator has Arnold Schwarzenegger been surrounded by so many bulging alpha males, none of whom would look out of place in the Austrian Oak’s Mr. Universe doc, Pumping Iron. But while the guns – of bicep and M4 variety – are one of the main reasons to indulge in Sabotage, it has more in its locker.
For as much as it’s a new Arnie movie (the best of the post-Governator comeback era), it’s also the latest foray onto America’s mean streets by David Ayer (Training Day, End Of Watch), and as such it explodes with colourful lingo, immersive camerawork and sudden, brutal violence.
Clearly of the school of thought that a good screenplay should start with a bang, Skip Woods, whose script was polished (or roughed up?) by Ayer, tosses us straight into the action. Ten minutes in and Breacher’s task force has stormed a mansion, blown shit up, eviscerated a bunch of goons, set fire to hundreds of millions of dollars, escaped through a sewer and lit their cigars.
Sabotage is not for everyone. Some will see it as a laudable mix of ’80s action staples and fast, modern, experiential filmmaking, while others will feel it falls flatly between the two stools. The brass-balls banter will no doubt be accused of misogyny and the bloodletting (this is the messiest 15-cert since Saving Private Ryan) will appal the faint-hearted, though it should be remembered that Ayer, who grew up in South Central LA and spent time in the armed forces, has seen violence first hand.
An ageing Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘does a Clint’ and allows mortality to creep up… while still kicking inordinate amounts of ass. Get to the chopper and instruct the pilot to head for the nearest cinema for a bruising, blistering ride.