Sabotage detonates itself on Blu-ray with an edition that presents this action movie throwback in what I suppose is the best possible light. The movie itself is an unfortunate misfire, full of bizarre choices and impossible situations. Ostensibly, it’s a chance to Arnold Schwarzenegger back in all his glory as the head of a rogue DEA task force, but things just don’t work out. If there were a meter for head slapping moments, this movie might well go off the charts. The high definition picture and sound here are fine, but perhaps that’s part of the problem. The Blu-ray also includes several deleted scenes, which include the movie’s original ending, albeit in a presentation that makes this package even more confusing than I would have thought possible. Schwarzenegger fans are better advised to pick up the 1980s movies this one is trying to emulate.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 50 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/22/2014
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. There was a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the king of the action movies, when you could count on him to deliver good, cheesy fun at your local movie house a couple of times a year. The movies were never anything more than popcorn entertainments, but you knew you’d be getting to see Schwarzenegger punch out the bad guys and deliver several so-bad-they’re-good one liners like “You’re fired!” or “Why don’t you let off some steam?” after delivering the old Mortal Kombat finishing move. Alas, those days are long behind us – some of them by nearly 30 years at this reckoning.
The Production Rating: 1/5
So now we come to Sabotage, Schwarzenegger’s most recent effort to get back in the saddle following the end of his political career. In theory, Sabotage actually does have some pedigree to it. It’s co-written and directed by David Ayer, who’s been known for his work on Training Day and most recently, the disappointing End of Watch. Schwarzenegger is as one-note as ever, but here he’s surrounded by some good actors, including Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway, a surprisingly good Sam Worthington and a horribly miscast Olivia Williams. And there are a few nods toward some interesting storytelling here, including points where we are shown scenes that are happening at multiple time periods in the same location. The story is ostensibly about Schwarzenegger’s character, Breacher, and his special DEA task force who come to apparent grief after going up against a deadly drug cartel. Or is that who’s going after them? The movie plays games with the Agatha Christie And Then There Were None structure as the team members start to get eliminated in interesting fashion. But the backbone of the plot is simply too flimsy to sustain, particularly when we get into the third act and someone has to step up to take responsibility.
SPOILERS HERE: Frankly, this is pretty distasteful movie. Starting with scenes of vicious torture of Breacher’s wife and son (which we get to revisit throughout the movie) and continuing with a bizarre heist scene around a toilet, the movie seems to revel in showing material nobody wants to see. Breacher’s team participates in a bust that turns into them trying to lift millions of dollars from their official target, only to find that the money’s gone and they’re under investigation. Theoretically, that could lead to an interesting movie, but David Ayer has something else in mind. The charges are quickly dropped and Schwarzenegger’s team is back out on the hunt. Only now someone is hunting the team, leading to sequences that really stretch credibility, to say the least. For example, one team member lives in a little motor home – and he wakes up in the middle of the night to find that someone has moved his trailer onto live train tracks just as a locomotive is bearing down on him. Let’s think about that for a moment. This man goes to sleep in his motor home, and never notices that someone has hooked up his trailer and is towing it onto train tracks? Really? Then we have the team member that gets found nailed to his ceiling. And we have the implication that a Central American hit squad is in town doing all this stuff. Except that we find out that the hit squad has been dead throughout all this stuff, and that it’s one or more of OUR people that are doing it. And that’s the usual David Ayer approach. Look at Training Day or End of Watch, or his script for the first The Fast and the Furious. Ayer loves to take the usual archtypes and turn them into the villains, so that the audience has no way of seeing how the situation will work out. Unfortunately, in this case, there just isn’t any real substance, and even the best actors in the movie are hamstrung by a script that sends them into increasingly ridiculous territory. In the end, we’re left with the same image of Arnold Schwarzenegger that we had when we started – as an aging icon of the action movie scene who would like to have one more good fight in him. This movie certainly isn’t that last good fight, if in fact it even exists.
Sabotage has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition, as of July 22nd. The Blu-ray has everything from the standard DVD, and adds high definition picture and sound, as well as additional pieces to its alternate ending. The Blu-ray release includes the DVD release on a second disc within the packaging.
Sabotage is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer at an average 34 mbps that provides a solid picture with as much detail as can be gleaned from what looks like a fairly dark shoot. Many sequences take place at night or in dimly lit locations – and the picture can become a bit murky.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Sabotage is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English (averaging 3.6 mbps but climbing to 5.4 mbps in some scenes) that gives a bit more crunch to the action sequences, but can’t do much to make Schwarzenegger’s clipped line readings any more understandable than usual.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The Blu-ray presentation of Sabotage includes about 17 minutes of deleted scenes, as well as another 11 minutes that provide two possible codas to an alternate ending found in the deleted scene section. A short making-of featurette is also on the disc. The packaging also includes the DVD release. A digital copy is available online via a code included in the packaging.
Special Features Rating: 1/5
Making Sabotage (8:32, 1080p) (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is your normal making-of featurette, where everyone in the cast and creative staff talks about how impressed they are with each other and how good the movie is. I frankly couldn’t find much substance about the actual process of making of this movie anywhere in this featurette.
Deleted Scenes (17:13 Total, 1080p) (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Eight deleted scenes are presented here, including a subplot about a missing little girl that was clearly intended to add some more weight to the narrative. The final deleted sequence is actually the beginning of an alternate ending to the movie, indicating that David Ayer was going for his usual twist resolution, and then backed out of it after the fact. So there’s a sequence that begins from one of the final big action scenes, but then carries the plot in a totally different direction – and frankly one that makes even less sense than the one that was actually used.
Alternate Endings (11:03 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – Here we have two possible codas to the alternate ending scene in the “Deleted Scenes” section. This is probably one of the more frustrating bonus features I’ve encountered in some time, to be honest. A viewer just watching these two codas could easily be completely thrown by them – as they don’t line up with anything in the actual movie the viewer will just have watched. These are the alternate ORIGINAL endings to this movie, which spring from a sequence you need to view in the “Deleted Scenes” section. Frankly, this just shows sloppiness. If an editor wanted viewers to experience this correctly, they would include the alternate ending sequence from the other section, and then give viewers the option to see either of the two codas presented here. As it is, I’ve already had one person tell me they were completely confused by this presentation.
My Scenes – The usual Blu-ray bookmarking feature is available here, allowing the viewer to set their own bookmarks throughout the film.
DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the movie. It contains the movie presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 1.85:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English (448 kbps). The featurette and the main deleted scenes section are included, in standard definition. The “Alternate Endings” section is not included, thus making the DVD presentation less confusing than the Blu-ray.
Digital Copy – Instructions are included in the packaging for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie for your your laptop or portable device.
Subtitles are available for the film and the featurette, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.
Sabotage probably sounded like a good idea when it was pitched: Arnold Schwarzenegger back in action with a solid supporting cast and an edgy writer/director telling a dark story about the DEA. Unfortunately, the end result is a confusing, bloody mess that is frankly distasteful to endure at many points. The Blu-ray presentation at least provides solid picture and sound (albeit of a murky shoot), but becomes nearly as confusing as the movie itself in its presentation of deleted material. Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger are better advised to revisit Commando.
Overall Rating: 1/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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