Cast: Mark Dacascos, Carrie Anne Moss, Tony Todd
Sabotage, am action thriller with a
in the lead, doesn't rely on martial arts that heavily. The climax
even involve martial arts at all! The movie is an above
action thriller that doesn't rely on an action scene every ten minutes,
instead using the time to also unravel a mystery and show us some
things. Maybe that's then why when the action scenes come, they pack
of a wallop. Though of course, it could also be because the action
are packed with bullets ripping through people and emitting huge
of blood and gore. Could the director have received an offer for a
discount on syrup and red food dye just before filming commenced?
The blood starts a-flyin' from the opening, where Bishop
a soldier in Bosnia, unsuccessfully tries to free some hostages,
almost mortally wounded by a mysterious man named Sherwood (Todd), then
seeing the hostages get machine-gunned before his blurring eyes. Flash
forward to a few years later, when Bishop has just been hired to be a
for a millionaire, but on the first day of the job his client is
before his eyes in a "Whoa!" sequence. From a rooftop a mile away,
fires a bullet, and we see from the bullet's point of view its path to
its victim. Then we see that the bullet has not only passed through its
intended victim, but another man and an airplane behind it - all of
in one brief shot!
After Bishop unsuccessfully tries to get Sherwood, the
FBI is called
in. As you may expect in a movie like this, the hero is a prime
And as you may expect, the main agent, Agent Castle (Moss), called in
a woman. Of course, there is hostility between Castle and Bishop
at first. Now you're probably thinking that they fall in love and
a hot slow motion sex scene with a dumb pop song playing in the
Actually, there isn't. One of the more interesting things about Sabotage
the relationship between the two leads. Their relationship evolves from
hostility to mutual admiration and respect during the course of the
- a more realistic evolution, I think. Also what's surprising is that
don't spend as much time together solving the mystery (and the
FBI/CIA cover-up) together as you may think. Castle at first does the
by the book, while Bishop breaks the rules in his investigation. When
are together, they use what each has learned to help themselves, then
two of them together. Both leads do a good job with their characters.
must also be given to Tony Todd, who makes his villain character
Gleeful, sadistic, and extremely smart, Sherwood is a great villain.
The movie does stop every so often to put the obligatory
in, but these scenes are well done and well integrated into the plot.
uses the locations of the scenes - a tiny hotel room for a martial arts
fight, a fight on a hockey rink - to great effect. The movie is well
and generally well edited, though the photography somewhat suffers from
the constant overcast skies. Some more sensitive viewers may be upset
Takacs' constant use of splattery gun wounds, including a surprising
of gun shots to people's heads.
There are some neat incidental things thrown into the
movie ever so
often that might not do anything for the plot, but make the movie as a
whole more colorful. We learn terminology like "idiot cut" (what you
when your eye was too close to the gun scope), and there's a clever
by someone who is injected with poison when he clicks the top of a pen
(I guess that's a literal "poison pen"!) My favorite scene was when
in his hotel room made an intruder alarm with a lamp, so that anyone
outside the door would unknowingly turn on the lamp inside. The
doesn't edit down this construction scene at all so we see it in its
yet it's not boring at all. Now, I don't know if this contraption would
actually work in real life, but it's a lot of fun all the same.
Sabotage works overall, but I do have one
that must be noted: the climax. I mentioned before that there weren't
martial arts in the climax, but that wasn't my concern, because the
had been working well despite the lack of this. The objection that I
about the climax is that there's a key moment that isn't clearly shown.
It's hard to discuss this without spoiling the movie, but I think I can
reveal that if this moment had been properly shown, it would have been
graphically violent. And knowing that, it becomes clear why this moment
wasn't shown properly; the sequence would possibly have made the movie
get an NC-17 rating. As a result, we have to determine what actually
from clues (shattered glass, a swerving car) happening right after this
vague moment. To further distance us, there's a shot afterwards of the
scene from about 1/3 of a mile away. This is disorienting, and may lead
viewers to feel confused and frustrated. I don't understand why the
didn't see this. My feeling is that if you can't properly show
in a movie, rewrite it to something you can show. Also, a movie should
have a title that at least has some relation to the plot - there's no
UPDATE: Marcus Johnson sent this in (Warning:
"I'm a big fan of your website and have been reading
it regularly for about two years now. In your review of Sabotage
I know that you were irked by the climax not being shown properly.
(just to make sure, I assume you are objecting to the fact that the
bullet is seen breaking the glass of Sherwood's SUV but that his actual
death isn't shown) In my ongoing quest to collect all of Mark Dacascos'
movies on DVD, I recently picked up a copy of Sabotage from
Denmark and after reading your review I was surprised to find that his
death is actually shown in this version. There is a five second shot
where you see his brains splattered on the windshield as his body
slumps forward. I guess they must have cut that shot for North American
release (it's pretty disgusting, the "brain" pieces actually drip down
the windshield). I've attached a picture of the shot for you.
Keep up the good work!"
UPDATE 2: Michael Prymula sent
"Just saw Sabotage earlier
today, and it was the North American R rated version, and I was very
surprised to see that Sherwood's death scene was uncut, I'm not sure
why, I'm guessing that it's only the Canadian version that was trimmed."
for availabiliy on Amazon (VHS)
See also: Drive, The Base, Timebomb