Thursday, 30 October 2014
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a Great Ape in charge of a team of heavily armed Juggalos. Sabotage plays like an old man fantasy with Schwarzenegger's Breacher as the elder gent able to run intellectual rings around the kids. His age makes him mythic and untouchable in their eyes, an abstract idea of masculine supremacy. The kids fucked up though. Although an idea of fraternity or family is repeatedly stressed, usually by the subordinates, it's clear Schwarzenegger has other ideas. Initially Sabotage seems to be a Friday the 13th instalment with Schwarzenegger as a monstrous bogeyman ticking off his disappointing children.
Sabotage, as it turns out, is instead about how disposable everybody else in your life is when measured against loved ones. Schwarzenegger allows his team to eat itself, but doesn't actively participate. Neither does he intervene. He's above the infighting because he's locked in somewhere else, waiting. Skip Woods and David Ayer's ending was allegedly hijacked, pruned and re-arranged to shift overt villainy off Schwarzenegger. All the nervous studio interference has done though is add an air of indifference. Breacher is truly, exceptionally, callous. Schwarzenegger as a giant, flushed knuckle that'll step over the bodies of people prepared to die for him if it'll equalise a personal situation. The team might love him but he doesn't love them.
Ayers shoots Schwarzenegger as an icon. The star's age isn't avoided or concealed, it's almost fetishised. Repeated close-ups let you drink in the decades. Ayers holding on an eyeline that looks more and more like Clint Eastwood's with every passing year. Arnold is shot like he's The Dark Knight Returns' Bruce Wayne, an ageing weightlifter who gets drunk to dredge up the most awful memories he can. Even his haircut is great, a self-administered close crop that undoubtedly reeks of Brylcreem. Sabotage is easily the best post-Governor Schwarzenegger film simply because it approaches the star as a relic. He's from another time. This mechanical male doesn't fit in with his beer-swilling tat-frat. They're flawed and messy. In comparison, Schwarzenegger is steel.