It's no secret that Schwarzenegger's been out of the acting game for a while. He's made a few passable entries since his return like "The Last Stand" and "The Expendables 2." Those were merely passable at best. The former didn't quite have the over-the-top violence that action movie lovers like myself crave. So now Arnie's back with "Sabotage," which in the trailers is advertised as an over-the-top Expendables-style flick in which Sam Worthington looks like the lead singer from Five Finger Death Punch and Joe Manganiello looks like ... I don't really know, but he has cornrows. But in reality, the movie's not quite like the trailer, and that's a good thing.
"Sabotage" is an adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie story "And then there were none." It is a story that hasn't really received a proper screen treatment in my opinion, at least until now. Because of this, "Sabotage" is more of a mystery/thriller than a balls out action movie like "Expendables." But that doesn't mean there's no action in it.
The film starts out with Arnie's character watching a snuff film of his wife getting tortured to death by a drug cartel. It then cuts to "8 months later." Some people who saw the trailer might thing WTF since it makes us believe that Arnie's family got kidnapped halfway through. Nope. That little opening, which like the rest of the movie pushes the envelope of good taste in movie violence, sets up the plot perfectly. So then cut to the present, and Arnie's leading a team of elite DEA agents in a safehouse bust. It becomes clear the minute we see them that these guys have more in common with, say, bikers or military spec ops because of the way they dress and act. The point is, these aren't your average pole-up-their-ass Feds. These guys are hardcore badasses and conduct themselves as such.
So during the bust, they find a big pile of money, not unlike the one belonging to Walter White in "Breaking Bad," and decide to steal $10 million (of cartel money) for themselves and split it up. They bury it in a sewage pipe to retrieve it another day, of course until, surprise, it's all gone because someone stole it. Then the killing begins, and these badasses start getting picked off one by one.
The most noteworthy thing that sets "Sabotage" apart from its competitors is the violence. Ho-LEE SHIEETT. While again, this isn't quite the testosterone-fueled ride the trailers seemed to suggest, the ways in which people die here are staggeringly brutal, and I'm a guy who's seen a lot of action movies. They're also actually pretty plausible, especially the guy dying early on after his RV gets hit my a train (spoiler: it's really, really messy). There's also plenty of up-close shots of people getting shot in the head, and again, it all feels very realistic. One of the ones that actually made me go "DAMN" was when a car crashed into one of those wrecker trucks in a manner that the bed basically sliced half the car in half horizontally. This is not a movie you want to take the whole family to see.
Where "Sabotage" really shines is the plot. For an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it's actually somewhat smart. Up until the very last act, we're led to believe that a group of cartel assassins is picking the DEA team off one by one because some cartel boss got pissed that $10 million, a pretty small amount for cartel standards, got stolen. Now anyone who's read "And then there were none" probably could have seen this coming a mile away, but it's really someone on the team behind it all. And said perpetrator somehow managed to make everyone think it was the cartel assassins. It's all pretty clever, watch the movie.
The acting isn't that special. Arnie's the same as in all his movies. Sam Worthington's not bad, it's just quite like him to look more like a heavy metal frontman. Joe Manganiello does decent as the squad's "big guy," and this is certainly a little different fare for Terrence Howard, who again handles it well. Back to Joe Manganiello, I still can't take seriously a guy who played a character named "Big Dick Richie" in "Magic Mike." The real standout is Mireille Enos, who is absolutely convincing as a federal agent who's not really all there if you get what I mean. She's sexy as hell and absolutely nuts, which I guess is a good fit for an undercover agent. Olivia Williams does ok as the uptight homicide detective I'm sure everyone's seen a hundred times.
To wrap it all up, "Sabotage" is definitely not what the trailers said it would be. That's a good thing. Sometimes trailers inadvertently show the whole movie, so it's good when the actual product is a little different. Like most thrillers, this one may have you on the edge of your seat through most of the film, but that really really gets amplified in the final act. The violence is some of the most brutal I've yet seen in any action movie, and that makes this not at all a family experience.
7.75 out of 10 for being somewhat different than the competitors.