Sabotage (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 31-Jul-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller/Action Alternate Ending
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Sabotage
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 104:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Ayer
Studio
Distributor

Universal Sony
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sam Worthington
Mireille Enos
Joe Manganiello
Max Martini
Josh Holloway
Terrence Howard
Olivia Williams
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music David Sardy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††††David Ayer has established himself as a purveyor of gritty crime films over the years, with the likes of End of Watch, Street Kings and Harsh Times under his belt. Co-written by Skip Woods, 2014ís Sabotage is not exactly fresh territory for the filmmaker, who dreams up a twisty action-thriller thatís dark, repugnant, and viciously violent. The movie also features the acting talents of Arnold Schwarzenegger, making a wise decision to star in whatís essentially an auteur effort. Sabotage is not a typical Schwarzenegger vehicle, but rather a David Ayer film through-and-through, with the Austrian Oak playing a much darker role than usual. Although the end result is uneven and was clearly the victim of studio interference, itís definitely a fun enough watch, even if itís not the genuine keeper it couldíve been.

††† In Georgia, a team of fierce DEA agents led by the towering Breacher (Schwarzenegger) storm the compound of a feared drug lord, using the raid to steal $10 million from the cartel to split amongst them for their own means. However, the stash of money mysteriously disappears, and the Feds begin to suspect Breacherís team. After being investigated and scrutinised for six months, though, the guys are cleared to return to duty, only to find that their skills are rusty and theyíve grown distrustful of each other. The situation deteriorates further when members of the task force begin getting murdered in vicious ways, prompting Investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) to look into the killings.

††† Arnie has fans young and old, but Sabotage is definitely geared towards the adult demographic. Ayerís movie wears its R-rating on its sleeve, with scores of blood and viscera, not to mention the graphic image of a dead body nailed to the ceiling. Itís commendable for Ayer to retain his tendency towards authenticity, though it might not appeal to those wanting something more in line with Commando. Whatís interesting is that Breacher and his team are actually villainous and highly unpleasant, with fuzzy morals making them true antiheroes. Indeed, we watch these guys stealing from a cartel in the first ten minutes and endeavouring to cover it up, and events only grow more extreme from there. It would be unwise to spoil the surprises within, but rest assured that the story heads off in unexpected directions, leading to a conclusion that one would never expect to see in an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.

††† One of the movieís strengths is its dialogue, which is full of snarky exchanges and macho bantering, reflecting the type of people that Breacherís team are. Itís often quite hilarious, and the joking around helps to give the picture a sense of humanity. Unfortunately, though, the task force generally has little dimension - there are a handful of great scenes of team bonding, but there should have been more, and at times itís hard to figure out whoís been killed. Storytelling is a bit all over the shop as well, with some choppy editing and a strange narrative flow suggesting that the movie was indeed extensively trimmed by the studio in favour of a more action-oriented finished product. Flat characters are to be expected in B-movies, but Sabotage aspires to be more than a dumb actioner, with Ayer shooting for something closer to Sylvester Stalloneís Cop Land. Thus, it insists on a realistic tone but it needed more dimensionality to make it work.

††† In terms of bruising action, Ayer definitely delivers, orchestrating scene upon scene of insanely violent shootouts and other chaos. Ayer is a filmmaker who prefers practical effects over CGI, hence you feel the impact of every bullet, and the destruction feels real. These are some of the best action set-pieces of Arnieís career, and thatís saying something. Itís also notable that Ayer predominantly relied on blood squibs as opposed to digital gore, a choice that gives the movie a beautifully lived-in aesthetic. The performances are a little bit flat across the board, but the ensemble are generally good enough. Schwarzenegger is well-suited to the role of Breacher, looking convincing as he uses big guns and chomps on cigars. The hulking star is visibly getting older, but he looks credible in combat here, and he can still deliver one-liners and use firearms with confidence. Also strong here is Sam Worthington as Monster, one of the members of Breacherís squad. Itís a refreshing change of pace for the actor, and heís actually a believable badass. Joe Manganiello, meanwhile, is likewise convincing as Grinder, while the likes of Terence Howard and Josh Holloway give further flavour to the Breacherís task force. But itís Mireille Enos who steals the show as the insane, coked-up Lizzy, spouting endless profanity and killing with little compunction.

††† In the end, itís hard to warm up to Sabotage or really love it, but itís easy to enjoy the various set-pieces staged with a sure hand, and itís fascinating to see Arnie playing a dark antihero. Still, one canít help but wonder what the rumoured original three-hour cut is like, and wonder if the various flaws in storytelling and character development could be rectified in a future director's cut release.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† For whatever reason, Sabotage is presented in interlaced 1080/50i, which is unacceptable for a new release title. This means, like a DVD, there is a PAL speed-up at play here. I had hoped we were over this when Blu-ray was unleashed. I also noticed a few issues common with 1080/50i transfers, with some minor but noticeable aliasing on fabric textures and edges. The average bitrate of this presentation is also a less than its American counterpart. Oh dear.

††† Furthermore, this transfer is open matte; the source aspect ratio is 1.85:1, whereas this disc is presented at 1.78:1. In essence, this means that there is more visual content at the top and bottom of the frame. Itís not a deal-breaker, but Iím a firm believer in remaining faithful. This video presentation is not faithful.

††† In other departments, this transfer is fairly good. Detail is unwaveringly strong across the board, with well-defined textures on clothing and faces. Colour is also strong and vibrant, and I did not notice any black crush.

††† I viewed the movie at the cinema (the one and only screening that took place in Australia), and itís clear that a 1080p encode and proper framing would have made this transfer reference-quality, as opposed to the strong but flawed presentation we have ended up with. I recommend importing.

† † Subtitles are fine on this release.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††††This is better. Like the American release, there is only one audio option available: an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio track, which handles everything extremely well.

††† Ayer is a filmmaker who loves realism, with deafening gunshot noises during the bombastic shootouts. When the action scenes arrive, there is plenty of aural goodness to take in. Dialogue is fine as well, though perhaps mixed a little soft, and the surround channels are put to good use.

††† This is a terrific track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††††A very small selection of extras. Quite disappointing.

Menu

††† The menu is nicely animated and themed, and easy to navigate.

Making Sabotage (8:32)

††† This is a disappointingly short EPK-style featurette which runs the usual gamut of topics without providing much substance. Itís nice to watch, but more of a YouTube fare. I like my extras to be meatier.

Deleted Scenes (14:58)

††† Eight scenes are available here, played in one reel with title cards to introduce them. I quite enjoyed a number of these scenes, as they add more to the story and characters. Itís clear Ayer initially had a stronger movie on his hands, but the studio were responsible for the final cut.

Alternate Endings (11:08)

††† Two alternate endings are available here, played one after the other. I liked the alternate endings, specifically the first one which runs for nine minutes, as they are darker and more in keeping with the overall tone and structure of the movie. Moreover, Arnoldís character is shown in a very different light. By comparison, the theatrical ending seems like the cop-out that it really is.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† ††Every other regions wins, simply by virtue of a 1080p video track in the correct aspect ratio. Supplemental material remains the same across the board, but I recommend an import for better video.

Summary

††††A bruising action-thriller which works to an extent as a piece of entertainment, but had the potential to be something a bit more profound. Can we please have a director's cut? The Blu-ray is disappointing. Video is problematic, audio is solid, and the release is way too light on extras. Rent before buying.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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