“Sabotage” opens with someone pouring sand into a generator, causing a blackout in London. The man responsible is Karl Verloc, who owns a movie theater with his wife, Mrs. Verloc, and is in cahoots with a cadre of European terrorists. However, because the blackout didn’t last very long and was even ridiculed by the public, Karl and his colleagues decide to make a bigger statement by placing a bomb in Piccadilly Circus. Scotland Yard is hot on Karl’s trail, and orders Detective Sergeant Ted Spencer to befriend him to prove his guilt. Ted ingratiates himself with Mrs. Verloc and, after arriving at the conclusion that she’s in the shadows about what her husband is up to, develops a romantic attraction to her.
One of the more frustrating elements of this film is that the terrorists’ motives are never made clear, leaving the audience in the dark about why they were wreaking so much havoc in London. Still, plot issues aside, “Sabotage” is further proof of why Hitchcock was, is, and will forever be regarded as the Master of Suspense. In the film’s most brilliantly tense sequence, Karl sends his wife’s younger brother Stevie on an errand to deliver a package he claims is filled with projector parts. Unbeknownst to him but known to us, the package actually contains a bomb. Thus, every delay in his trip makes it all the more likely that the bomb will detonate before it reaches its destination.