No stars (turkey). Rating: Rated R, for strong bloody violence and gore, relentless profanity, nudity, drug use and sexuality
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.28.14
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Once upon a time, in the 1980s and early ’90s, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger vied for the crown of box-office action champ: the former riding the momentum of his Rocky and Rambo franchises; the latter embracing a string of solid sci-fi/fantasy entries such as Conan the Barbarian, Predator and — needless to say — The Terminator.
Now they’re in a race to the bottom.
I was astonished — and saddened — when Stallone popped up about a year ago, in the loathsome Bullet to the Head. Exiting that bit of distasteful junk, I couldn’t imagine any (former) big-name star doing worse.
Color me surprised, because along comes Schwarzenegger and this repugnant turkey.
Back in the day, you’d have had to stay up late on a Friday night — at home — to see this sort of grade-Z shoot-’em-up on Cinemax. No self-respecting actor would have signed on for such grindhouse trash, and no self-respecting studio would have dared release such a thing theatrically.
My, how times have changed.
Sabotage isn’t merely offensively, viciously, gratuitously violent; it’s also stupid beyond measure.
Director David Ayer has made a minor splash with gritty urban thrillers such as Harsh Times and Street Kings — don’t feel bad, if they escaped your notice — but his primary Hollywood rep results from his impressive one-two punch as a writer, in 2001: collaborating on The Fast and the Furious, and as sole scripter on Training Day, which brought Denzel Washington an Academy Award.
Based on his subsequent career, Ayer has been chasing the belief that amorality for its own sake is what sells in these United States. Why bother with plot or character, when one can wallow in the sleaze of ghastly depravity?
He has teamed here with co-writer Skip Woods, who also made some noise in 2001, with the stylishly nasty Swordfish, and more recently got involved with glossy action junk such as The A-Team and A Good Day to Die Hard. Nothing to brag about, to be sure, but also nothing to be ashamed of. Until now.