There is no reason why Arnold Schwarzenegger shouldn’t enjoy an Indian summer to his movie career. It is worth remembering that John Wayne, an actor almost as inexpressive as he is, did much of his finest work at the tail end of his career. Sadly, post-gubernator Arnie hasn’t yet found his equivalents to True Grit or El Dorado.
Sabotage is at least a mild improvement on Escape Plan, his recent, leaden-footed foray with Stallone. This time, the old mastodon plays John “Breacher” Wharton, leader of a crack squad of DEA special operation agents who all have names like “Neck,” “Monster” and “Tripod”. His wife and son have been kidnapped and tortured by drug dealers. He’s grief-stricken by this – not that he shows it.
Worse, $10m of money recovered from a drugs bust has disappeared down the sewage pipes. The action scenes are very bloody and violent. The characters speak in macho clichés. As a sceptical police investigator, the British actress Olivia Williams articulates the scepticism and contempt that audiences are likely to feel at the posturing of the DEA agents – although even she finds Arnie’s grandfatherly charms hard to resist.