'Sabotage' an exercise in foul-mouthed mayhem

Contributing writerMarch 28, 2014 


H 1/2 I I I

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harold Perrineau and Olivia Williams

Director: David Ayer

Running time: 1:50

Rated: R; strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use.

Anybody got a bar of soap? Hand it over. I’ve got a movie here that needs its mouth washed out.

The picture is “Sabotage,” and it’s an opus in which the dialogue isn’t so much spoken as spewed.

From my notes: “Shut the (bleep) up.” “Are you (bleeping) kidding me?” “(Bleep) you.” “Don’t (bleep) with me.” And this, the last panicked word of a doomed character: “Bleep!”

And so on, endlessly.

It’s kind of funny at first, the sheer pervasiveness of the potty-mouthings of the picture’s performers. Then it becomes irritating. And finally, boring.

I expected better of David Ayer, the director/co-writer (sharing screenplay credit with Skip Woods). “End of Watch,” his previous outing behind the camera, is one of the best cop movies in recent memory: tightly constructed, immensely gripping and wonderfully revealing of its characters’ personalities. “Sabotage” has none of that.

Instead “Sabotage” has a tatted-up (presumably for youth appeal) Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the leader of a DEA commando squad made up of some truly unpleasant people about whom we’re supposed to care because, well, they’re what passes for the movie’s heroes.

But they’re a scummy bunch who, right out of the gate, help themselves to $10 million of a drug cartel’s cash stash and then proceed to be bumped off in spectacularly gruesome ways when the heisted loot goes missing. Dissension in the ranks, bullets through the brain and intestines dangling in glistening tendrils from the ceiling (as I said: gruesome) are all part of the undoing of this crew. It’s hard to sympathize with such people when things go south.

Further unpleasantness: Arnie’s character tortures himself by obsessively watching a snuff video of his wife being hideously tortured to death by cartel crazies. Thus is he motivated to kick butt and wreak heavy-weapon vengeance on the people who did the dirty deed.

“Sabotage’s” sole saving grace are the performances of Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau, who play a couple of local cops investigating the murders of Arnie’s army of reprobates. They’re smart, they’re personable, their banter is playful. They’re like a cool oasis in this desert of dirty talk and demented violence.

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