Sabotage could’ve been better and Schwarzenegger, who wasn’t that bad, was kind of mis-cast with someone like a Russell Crowe probably being better suited for the role. However, the action scenes were well choreographed including the final chase sequence and despite having mostly despicable characters, I still managed to be slightly entertained and engaging, plot holes and all.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Drama
Universal | R – 110 min. – $34.98 | July 22, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Often times the ingredients are there between actors, writers and the director but for whatever reason, instead of a finely grilled steak are instead a charred, tasteless piece of meat. Now, I won’t say Sabotage is terrible and has some things going for it, but the potential was squandered considering the talent involved.
The story centers around an elite squadron, led by John “Breacher” Wharton (ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER), from the DEA in charge of undercover work to infiltrate cartel drug rings and in the process take down the bad guys sometimes putting on a bad rep themselves to blend in.
In the film’s opening, we find the task force — includes, along with Breacher, James “Monster” Murray (SAM WORTHINGTON), Julius “Sugar” Edmonds (TERRENCE HOWARD), Joe “Grinder” Phillips (JOE MANGANIELLO), Eddie “Neck” Jordan (JOSH HOLLOWAY), Bryce “Tripod” McNeely (KEVIN VANCE) and Lizzy Murray (MIREILLE ENOS) — as they ram the house of a cartel organization housing drugs and a large chunk of change.
Inside, they systematically take down gunman after gunman and we soon realize this task force is up to no good themselves. With the DEA suits outside monitoring the take-down, the force begin bagging up drug money for themselves, $10 million worth, and hiding it in the water line underneath a nearby toilet, before torching the rest. The op isn’t a complete success as one of their own is killed in the process, but that doesn’t stop this gang from partying hard at the local strip club where we get our obligatory nudity for the film… Oh, and in the background we do get to see Enos do a “workout” on the stripper pole.
When the crew go back to retrieve the money, they discover somebody already beat them to the punch. Making matter worse, the DEA has opened up an investigation into the missing money – though in a plot lapse, how they knew exactly how much doesn’t make sense – interrogating each one of them, but they’re defiant and don’t break despite internal pressures, particularly on Breacher who has been assigned a desk job. But when the investigation concludes, the task force gets their badges and guns and get back to action, though the missing money still hangs over their heads. Soon enough, they have more to worry about than the money as somebody is hunting them down, killing in unusual and increasingly brutal manner, the first getting smashed inside his RV which the culprit parked across train tracks…
Enter Detective Caroline Brentwood (OLIVIA WILLIAMS) and partner Darius Jackson (HAROLD PERRINEAU) who are investigating the murder though she receives less than a warm welcome from the task force mocking her presence and, with subsequent murders, warn her to back off as it becomes apparent that a drug cartel might be responsible. However, Brentwood does get help from Breacher who, together, try to piece together the evidence all the while she gets to know his tragic background in which Breacher’s wife and son were kidnapped and brutally murdered months earlier.
Sabotage admittedly isn’t the best written film and tries to be Training Day with a flawed main character (Schwarzenegger) and therein might lie the problem from the get-go. As different of a role it is for the Austrian-American actor, who is closing in on the big 7-0, he wasn’t right for the part considering not only appearance but expectations where he often is in more light-hearted, guilty-pleasure films than anything overly gritty. In my opinion, somebody like Russell Crowe or even Mark Wahlberg probably would’ve been more suitable for the role. In any case, Schwarzenegger is who we got and for the most part he’s fine and plays off the ensemble cast, as unlikeable as they are, fairly well.
Speaking of the supporting cast, David Ayer and company certainly got together an impressive group from Sam Worthington, who Hollywood is still attempting to make a big star out of (and failing), Terrence Howard relegated to what amounts to a filler role, Josh Holloway of “Lost” fame is unrecognizable and Mireille Enos playing such a different part compared to “The Killing” and World War Z that if not for the film’s box office failure and early release date, probably was deserving of a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
The film was helmed and co-scripted, along with Skip Woods (A Good Day to Die Hard, Swordfish), by David Ayer who received critical acclaim for his work on End of Watch, which made good use of the found footage gimmick. For Sabotage, Ayer doesn’t do a bad job with framing and at least giving some passion even if the casting was off and the characters themselves are hardly likeable with only Schwarzenegger and maybe Worthington coming off in the best light; even then both will turn off some viewers.
On a side note, the film’s marketing team missed a golden opportunity using the classic Beastie Boys’ song in the trailers. Just saying.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a matted, title-embossed, slip cover. Inside is the retail DVD Copy and a redemption code for the Digital Copy (iTunes and UltraViolet).
Making Sabotage (8:32; HD) is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette with some on-set interviews with the cast (including Schwarzenegger) and crew (Ayer).
Alternate Endings (11:03; HD) – We get two alt. endings one concerning Caroline and the other Breacher. Both brutal and sheds some new (dark) light on Breacher as a character. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted Scenes (17:13; HD) – There are 8 scenes that were trimmed or scrubbed for one reason or another, most likely for pacing issues. None of these are particularly significant or change the plot but interesting to watch on their own nonetheless.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Sabotage crashes the gates onto Blu-ray presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer and in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio. Unsurprisingly, this new release has excellent detail levels, colors are relatively warm and bright and although there is some noise, it only adds to the theatrical-like quality. Outside of that, this is a great transfer free of artifacts, pixilation or any other flaws.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The disc comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which nicely shows off the various elements from the many action scenes, including the car chase towards the end, to some quieter, more dialogue-driven moments as well as the score by David Sardy (Premium Rush, End of Watch). It’s a dynamic track and will certainly impress anyone in the vicinity… even if the movie doesn’t.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Sabotage could’ve been better and Schwarzenegger, who wasn’t that bad, was kind of mis-cast with someone like a Russell Crowe probably being better suited for the role. However, the action scenes were well choreographed including the final chase sequence and despite having mostly despicable characters, I still managed to be slightly entertained and engaging, plot holes and all. The Blu-ray released by Universal offers up incredible video and audio transfers while the bonus features were rather thin in content.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.