From the Archive – Sabotage (1996)

“Ouch”

Directed by Tibor Tackáks
Starring Mark Dacascos, Tony Todd and Carrie-Anne Moss

Former special forces assassin/hostage rescue sniper type Michael Bishop (Dacascos), who was almost killed by mercenary Sherwood (Todd) during a mission for General Tollander (Graham Greene) in some embattled European country or other, is working as a bodyguard when his principal is offed by Sherwood.

Enter suspicious FBI single mum Lou (Moss) and Bishop’s gay, English, wheelchair-bound, chess-playing ex-intelligence consultant mentor Follenfant (John Neville), add suspicion and child kidnapping; mix well.

Blah, blah; it’s all a set-up by the dying Follenfant who wants Bishop to kill him so he can go out with a bang.

Everyone but Bishop, Lou and the kid get dead.

The end.

What’s wrong with it?

As ever, Tibor Tackáks turns in a performance akin to housepaint: A good, workmanlike job, but really, really dull. Dacascos is his usual boring self, Moss is unremarkable, Greene has no opportunity to revel in a rare bad-guy role, and John Neville is criminally underused as the stereotypical flaming queen.

Oh; and I’d like to put a shout out for the child-minder, who once more pays the ultimate price during the kidnapping of the little girl. It is a thankless task to be a domestic in a thriller, and no more so to be the SWAT team: A shout out to the SWAT teams, in this and all the others; first in, first dead, and no-one ever says sorry.

What’s right with it?

Tony Todd; having a ball as ever, bless his evil, size twelve cotton socks.

How bad is it really?

Sabotage is just mind-numbingly dull. Even the action sequences.

Best bit…

Not really, no.

What’s up with…?

  • The SWAT team? Why does no one ever care about the SWAT team? No-one even gets pissed at their meaningless deaths. No- one even says: ‘They killed my men!’ Poor bastards.
  • The child-minder? Lou finds two cleaners in the back garden, carrying the lifeless bloody corpse of her devoted childminder and friend, wrapped in plastic sheeting. She shoots the cleaners, but never a tear is shed for the luckless girl who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not even a ‘poor <insert name here>; she’s been looking after my kid for years’.
  • Tollander’s ‘clean-up’? He swans in, all Army Intelligency and badass, gives the corrupt FBI boss a poisoned pen, then removes all the evidence in a bin liner, and no-one even challenges him.
  • Follenfant? Not only is it a stupid name and a stupid role, what’s a crippled Brit doing involved with US military intelligence anyway?

Ratings

Production values: Certainly not actively bad, aside from a couple of iffy slow-mo bullet-cam moments. 8

Dialogue and performances: Rubbish. The script is not so much poor as simply entirely unremarkable, and the performances range from Neville’s scene-chewing to Dacascos’ usual lethargic effort. 14

Plot and execution: Competent, but deeply uninspiring. Tackáks carries off his usual trick of not doing anything wrong by not doing anything much at all. 16

Randomness: Basically the plot hinges entirely on you never asking why. Nothing actually hangs together, making the whole film essentially random. 18

Waste of Potential: All the ingredients were in place for a really dull movie, and guess what…? No real surprises here. 8

Overall 64%

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