Blu-ray Review: Sabotage (2014)

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: David Ayer | CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mireille Enos
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 7/22/2014 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $34.98
BONUSES: featurette, deleted scenes, alternate endings
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Action thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

Not exactly a return to form but rather a step back in the direction of the hard-R cinema that defined him in the Terminator and Predator days, the action-filled crime thriller Sabotage is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third starring role since he wrapped up gig as “Governator” of California in 2009. (Last year’s Escape Plan opposite Sylvester Stallone was a kind-of extension of Stallone’s Expendables franchise and we’re still trying to forget about that same year’s The Last Stand, which found Arnold playing opposite Jackass ‘s Johnny Knoxville).

Schwarzenneger here stars as John “Breacher” Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force who engineers a raid on a heavily-armed drug cartel safe house. The appears to go off effectively (if violently) until a shady skirmish involving a huge stash of cash unravels, resulting in them being investigated for the disappearance of millions of dollars. Though the cash remains missing, everyone’s eventually cleared of wrong-doing. But the next thing you know, the agents involved start turning up dead. Everyone is a suspect—even members of the squad itself.

Sabotage movie scene

Arnold Schwarzenegger (ctr.) and his team take down a drug cartel safehouse in Sabotage.

Directed and co-written by David Ayer, who helmed End of Watch and wrote Training Day, Sabotage is a fast-cutting and particularly nasty red meat action-thriller. Even the names of the Schwarzennegger’s team are appropriately tough—guys like ‘Monster’ (Sam Worthington, Man on a Ledge), ‘Grinder’ (Joe Manganiello, Magic Mike), ‘Neck’ (Josh Holloway, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and ‘Pyro’ (Max Martini). Then there are the women, led by Mireille Enos’s (World War Z) squad member Sugar, a drug-addled ass-kicker, and the always-fine Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer), as an Atlanta cop investigating the rising body count and who, in Sabotage’s most far-fetched plot wrinkle, gets involved with Schwarzenegger’s increasingly stressed Breacher, who’s still getting over the torture and murder of his wife and daughter by Mexican cartel members years earlier.

Yeah, there’s a lot going in Sabotage and with its betrayals and twists, it often gets convoluted, but there’s no denying that Ahnold gets a chance to do more acting than usual as a world-weary, morally questionable and possibly corrupt character. And the stakes seem more realistic than usual in Sabotage, even if the scenarios are a bit outlandish. But crazy car chases and gunfights are the hallmarks of most of Ahnold’s film, so I could go with it since, well, it’s Ahnold.

Included as bonus features on the Sabotage Blu-ray are a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes, as well as a pair of alternate endings, one of which is definitely a radical departure from the theatrical version (which I judge as the best wrap-up of the bunch).

Sabotage was released wide in March, 2014 to a premiere weekend of $5.3 million, the worst opening for a Schwarzenegger film in over thirty years. That’s sad, as Sabotage isn’t just another silly or derivative or even predictable Ahnold movie, but rather a not-bad genre entry that finds the man as a relatively realistic (and troubled!) ensemble player with a tricky personal agenda who’s in it for more than just the glory of violence and destruction. It’s a movie that should have gotten more attention.

But don’t worry about Ahnold. He’ll be back.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.