Review by Gordon Justesen
Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Joe
Manganiello, Harold Perrineau, Martin Donovan, Max Martini, Josh Holloway,
Director: David Ayer
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 110 Minutes
Release Date: July 22, 2014
ďOnly when I find my witnesses nailed to the ceiling.Ē
Between his welcome appearances in The Expendables movies and what I thought was a rousing solo comeback in the vastly underrated The Last Stand, itís been fun seeing the former governor of Kulli-fornia returning to what he does best. The latest entry in the Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback lineup, Sabotage, is sort of a different breed and consists of two qualities. On the plus side, itís darker and grittier than anything Arnie has done before...on the downside, the movie as a whole is a bit of a mess.
Itís also the latest directing effort from the usually reliable David Ayer, coming off his most critically acclaimed film to date with End of Watch (understandably so). Ayer is also credited with scripting many of the most effective cop movies of recent memory (most notably Training Day). His gritty directorial skills are very much in play just as they were in the aforementioned previous film. The problem here is that the script is a bit all over the place, and the parts where the focus is intact are scenarios weíve seen done to death in countless other movies.
Set in Atlanta (and Iíll give the movie bonus points for a neat, rare backdrop), the story follows a ragtag DEA special ops team, led by Breacher (Schwarzenegger) that specializes in taking down big busts of major drug cartels. Their latest takedown is their biggest one yet, with millions of dollars tied to the biggest cartel in Mexico waiting to be taken in. Trouble is, when the team goes to collect the money, which was left in a specific safe spot, it has somehow vanished, leaving the team both marked for death by the cartel and investigated by internal affairs.
Time goes by and, eventually, Breacher and his team are in the clear as the investigation ends. But not long after that, members of his team are being clipped off one by one, indicating that the cartel is definitely keeping watch. This attracts the attention of local cop Caroline (Olivia Williams) who has her suspicions of Breacher, but eventually comes to trust him (and also sleep with him, an implication I could have done without...yick!)
One of the key problems with Sabotage is the handling of turning points in the story and surprising developments in the second half. Moments when weíre meant to feel stunned by a certain revelation are very poorly executed, leaving me to wonder if Ayer and co-writer Skip Woods had any real faith in the material in the first place. A pivotal scene where a couple characters reveal themselves to be not what they seem, left me scratching my head due to how awkward it was handled.
And though the movie is very graphically violent in ways that would rival a slasher movie, it doesnít really offer much in the way of grandiose action. The one exception is a climatic car chase that includes one of the more graphic killings of a random bystander Iíve ever seen, and ends with one of the most jarring crashes in movie history. Itís not enough to overshadow the flaws of the movie, but itís a scene that definitely had me saying DAMN!
So in the end, Sabotage is basically an uninspired blending of gritty cop movie, gory serial killer movie and brief tid bits of what you normally expect in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Iím a sucker for movies involving police corruption (many of which are films written or directed by David Ayer), but this is one of the more un-involving of recent memory. Not a total waste of time, but without question quite a mess.
This Blu-ray presentation from Universal is all around stunning. The movie carries a gritty look to it, and is enhanced awesomely via the 1080p. Image detail is enormously crisp and fully rendered. Colors are a knockout as well, and the black levels are superbly rich from beginning to end!
A loud and ferocious DTS HD mix is at service here! Thereís a lot for a good sound system to work with here, with all the heavy gunfire and periodic explosions. I may have mentioned how little massive action there is in the movie, but what is supplied is heard at a sharply high volume. Dialogue delivery and music playback are nicely balanced as well!
Included on this Blu-ray release two Alternate Endings that are, for once, massively different when compared to the actual ending. There are also seventeen minutes worth of Deleted Scenes and a brief making of featurette, which runs about eight minutes in length.
This Universal Combo Pack release also includes a DVD copy of the movie as well as a code for a downloadable UltraViolet edition.
Sabotage has the appearence of a perfect package, for me at least. But the end result is more than a mixed bag, with the good moments few and far between. Still good to see old Arnie back in the saddle, though, and I hope he has a few more movies left in him.