Open Road Films via Everett Collection
David Ayer's Sabotage is just the latest stop in Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback tour, though it probably won't do the actor too many favors. Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force that specializes in taking down drug cartels. Each member of the team is a blunt instrument drunk off of their alpha male (and female) machismo, but to be fair, they are damn good at what they do. They're masters at going in hard, killing whoever needs killing, and heading to the strip club and drinking themselves into a stupor before the next round of street sweeping. Unfortunately, it turns out years of busting cartel bosses and being deeply unpleasant to everyone you come into contact with eventually catches up to you, and members of the squad start dying in ghastly and elaborate ways. And just like that, we have what basically amounts to an Agatha Christie novel with a gym membership and a pile of meth.
Unfortunately, and as expected, giving Agatha Christie a couple of reps at the gym and a pile of drugs turns her into a blithering idiot, because Sabotage is incredibly stupid. The central mystery somehow manages to be both preposterous and predictable at the same time. The film's one saving grace is its action. The action scenes are adrenal and exciting and unbelievably gory. Bloated corpses are poked and prodded, viscera hangs like ropes from a rafter. This film takes immense pleasure in being completely disgusting. It’s downright gleeful about it. Here's a full shot of a soiled toilet, just because. Here's a piece of skin hanging on some metal, why not. Isn't that cool?
While Sabotage does manage to thrill in spurts and stutters, there's absolutely nothing beating at the heart of the film. All of the main characters are completely and utterly repugnant, and you'll pity anyone who has to endure their company throughout the film. When characters do start to die, you won't feel all that broken up about it. In fact, you may even feel a twinge of joy, like the earth was suddenly unburdened from a pure source of rampant douchebaggery. Just imagine the most disgusting, and off-putting person you can, and then give them a gun, a badge, and a fierce sense of entitlement, and you have every single member of the film's DEA squad. They're all terrible.
And if that weren't bad enough, the acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. The usually wonderful Olivia Williams and the capable Sam Worthington continually forget which continent they're on, their accents dropping in an out like a bad radio connection; Schwarzenneger has a complete inability to emote anything apropos of the situation at hand. When looking upon a pile of ooze that was formerly in the shape of one of his best friends, his disappointment is more akin to seeing a temporarily occupied gym bench on chest day. All of the charm the actor showcased in something like the recent Escape Plan is washed out by Breacher's moping about his dark past, and when Schwarzenneger isn't allowed to be fun, then he's completely boring.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
Really, I should hate Sabotage. It’s a completely stupid and mean spirited film, but there’s a strange charm to the depravity of it all. There's an audaciousness to it. The film goes as far as it can to push limits, and succeeds at being appaling. It’s a film that knows how stupid and ugly it is and champions that fact. It’s playing in its own filth, and as gross as that is, at least it’s having fun. This is the kind of film that will be in heavy rotation at the local frat house. That’s doesn’t mean the film is good or even okay, but if you like watching horrific violence, awful mysteries, and awful people being awful, then boy do I have a film for you.
In this country, you've got to make the Quiz Show first. And then when you make the Quiz Show, you get the Donnie Brasco. And then when you make the Donnie Brasco, you get the Scarface. There are also a few Good Germans in there somewhere, but you get the gist. Deadline reports that screenwriter Paul Attanasio is being tasked with rewriting the script for the developing Scarface remake.
The accomplished writer/producer — who in addition to the listed titles has also worked on Homicide: Life on the Streets and House — will be taking scripting responsibilities from David Ayer, the writer of Training Day and the recent release End of Watch. Ayer's well-received credits aside, Attanasio does seem more fit to take on a project like this. His films have exhibited the cultural gravity and extensive scopes befitting a retelling of Tony Montana's story. But how much of the Brian de Palma classic should be recreated in Attanasio's script?
The 1983 film's script, written by wordsmith Oliver Stone, consists of an army of memorable one-liners. In fact, Scarface is a movie more substantially defined by its individual lines and speeches than many of its peers, leading to a plausible dilemma in terms of a remake. Some of these recognizable bits of dialogue would be easily conducive to reproduction in a film with a dissimilar perspective — for instance, Michelle Pfeiffer's forewarning: "Don't get high on your own supply." But then there are those far too entrenched in the highly specific, gritty mood of de Palma's Scarface, i.e. star Al Pacino's, "This town is like a great big p**** waiting to get f***ed." Not nearly as malleable; Attanasio's incarnation of Montana would have to be pretty in line with Stone's in order to pull that off, provoking the question of whether or not a remake that identical to the '83 picture is accomplishing anything new.
Topping the list of memorable Scarface lines is of course, "Say hello to my little friend!" A catchphrase that simultaneously has to be in the new movie and can't be in the new movie. How could they possible get it right? How could they possibly avoid it? Wouldn't it soften the blow to recreate such a cinematic scene, and build toward a derivative final product? Tackling a tagline like this, as well as other specific memorable components of Scarface (the mountains of cocaine, Montana's fall to his death, the tiger), will be difficult dealings for any screenwriter attempting a remake. Maybe that's why they had to bring in a new one...
[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures]
Amy Adams and Lee Daniels Join Janis Joplin Biopic Race
'Carrie' Carries the Torch of the '76 Original as Carrie Torches City — TRAILER
NYCC 2012: Bruce Campbell Hopes People Walk Out of the 'Evil Dead' Remake