With SABOTAGE, The Governator Continues His Big-Screen Comeback
Next April, moviegoers will be able to experience the next step in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revitalized acting career. After serving two terms as the governor of California, he began his comeback in 2013 with The Expendables 2, followed closely by The Last Stand and Escape Plan. He will return to the big screen next year in David Ayer’s Sabotage.
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Ayer is best known for his work on hit films such as Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T. and End of Watch, where he served as lead writer. He directed and wrote Sabotage alongside Skip Woods, whose screenwriting credits include Swordfish, Hitman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard.
Sabotage features a start-studded cast in addition to the inestimable presence of Hollywood icon Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sam Worthington, perhaps best known for his turns as Jake Sully in Avatar and Perseus in Wrath of the Titans, joins Schwarzenegger alongside Mereille Enos of HBO’s Big Love, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway of LOST fame and Max Martini, whose recent film credits include Pacific Rim and Captain Philips.
Sabotage is the story of a team of DEA operatives led by Schwarzenegger’s John “Breacher” Wharton. The film follows the team’s high-stakes takedown of a powerful drug cartel, and what happens after they collude to make off with the cartel’s millions. The group thinks it’s home free until they start being assassinated, one by one. Once a tight-knit group held together by mutual respect and trust, their lives – and futures – begin to unravel after they start disappearing.
The film’s conceit is perhaps not wholly original, but it’s reimagined here as a gritty, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel And Then There Were None (still the seventh best-selling book of all time) is an obvious touchstone. In it, ten dissimilar individuals, who were each complicit in a murder, are brought to the same location and picked off one by one to atone for their crimes.
If the trailer is any indication, Sabotage will bear little resemblance to Christie’s novel except for the very basics of the premise. Instead, it looks to be a great example of what’s possible when an existing work is reinterpreted for a modern audience, using modern storytelling devices.
Whether the film will capture the essential humanity of its subjects as well as the novel that served as its inspiration is anybody’s guess. Casting Schwarzenegger as John Wharton seems an obvious choice, yet the Austrian actor is arguably at his best when he’s letting his scowls and simple, intimidating physicality do his acting for him. Introducing any kind of nuance into the story will likely fall on the shoulders of Schwarzenegger’s co-stars.
Still: a tale of avarice, mistrust and the fraying bonds of brotherhood seems like perfect subject matter for a modern-day thriller. We’re unlikely to witness any truly stirring societal messages here, such as the dangers of meth addiction (courtesy of the cartel), but Sabotage does, at least at first glance, seem to be a comfortable step above your average action film, if its venerable source of inspiration is any indication.