Sabotage Blu-ray Review
Brutal, bloody and unbowed
Sabotage Blu-ray Review
There’s no denying that an ultimately incoherent plot resolution fatally wounds this gritty action thriller, but it still stands out as a refreshingly atypical entry in Arnie’s film history.As you might only expect from the writer of Training Day, Dark Blue and End of Watch (the last of which he also directed), David Ayer’s Sabotage is a suitably harsh look at the darker side of law enforcement.
Following an elite special tactical team of DEA Agents who are facing off against powerful drug cartels, this is perfect hunting ground for the director and Ayer paints an authentic portrait of elite officers who spend so much time putting their lives on the line that they believe themselves above the normal rules and regulations that govern society; above the law.
Through a pervasive torture theme he establishes a dark and menacing undertone as we’re submerged in a world of violent revenge and bloody exit wounds. Nobody is innocent, nobody is above suspicion, and, nobody is untouchable. Even Schwarzenegger, renowned for being an action hero, comes across in shades of grey, turning in one of the best performances of his career.The screenplay, based on the Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel And Then There Were None, is where things start to fall apart; the original mystery novel itself was always hampered by its final twist (as were all previous adaptations) and Ayer similarly struggles to tie things off satisfactorily, building a promising, tense first half, before starting to fall apart as you realise that there is almost no possible logical, satisfactory, conclusion.
It’s no surprise when you realise that the director was restricted by Studio interference, culling his 3-hour first cut down to an allegedly more action-driven 100-minute offering (probably because of a desire to market it as an ‘Arnie action movie’) which, in turn, is little more than a botched mess plot-wise.
Perhaps knowing how unforgivably flawed it is in advance will make it a more tolerable experience should you choose to investigate this film, because anybody expecting either a solid Arnie actioner or a coherent David Ayer thriller will be sorely disappointed.
What is Sabotage Blu-ray Picture QualitySabotage hits UK shores complete with a Region B-locked Blu-ray that promotes the film with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail remains sharp and precise throughout, with superb skin textures, clothing weaves and background flourishes, focussed on delivering impressive fine object detail at every turn.
Looking near-perfect, particularly when compared to the style of End of Watch, Ayer’s latest still has a distinctly gritty edge.
The colour scheme is reasonably natural, with only a few stylistic slants. Skin tones are authentic, and black levels are strong and deep, allowing most of the night sequences to provide welcome shadow detail, even though a couple do have some minor digital defects largely as a result of pushing for genuine night filming using localised lighting. Still, with only a hint of digital issues, this is still demo territory.
What is Sabotage Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a solid, frequently penetrating effort that boasts fine atmospheric observation coupled with punchy action beats. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, dominating the fronts and centre channels where appropriate.
The audio earns itself a very good rating, albeit just falling shy of demo territory.
The frequently minimalistic score, occasionally spilling out into more immersive film-derived tracks, gets decent coverage across the array, but the effects have the best treatment, with smaller touches picking up on during the quieter moments, and the differentiated thunder of each any every heavy weapon on offer given distinct promotion too, and further hitting home through the impact of some particularly penetrating explosions. The LFE channel gets a decent enough workout, and overall this is a solid, occasionally excellent offering.
Sabotage Blu-ray ExtrasSurprisingly light on extras, aside from the Deleted Footage, all we get is an 8-minute Making-of Featurette that skims over the production. With no sign of the 3 hour cut that Ayer reportedly came up with first, we have to make do with about a quarter of an hour of Deleted Scenes and 11 minutes’ worth of Alternate Endings, split unevenly between the two.
The Deleted Scenes only play in one long sequence, and are separated into 8 chapters, although several scenes are themselves split into shorter segments. Most of them are fairly inconsequential and dedicated to the cop character and her search for a missing girl, although the extra kidnapping sequence is quite good and could have remained in.
They are almost all only one to two minutes in length but the final Deleted Scene plays at a whopping 7 minutes in length, and is tantamount to an extended ending of some sorts, leading straight into the two Alternate Endings, the first of which is spectacularly violent and very different from the one that they ultimately went with (probably as a result of reshoots), and the second of which is just the flipside twist to the first. Neither are necessarily more satisfactory than the one in the final cut, but certainly the second of the two offers up a marginally better explanation than anything else on offer. All are worth checking out.
Is Sabotage Blu-ray Worth BuyingIt’s nice to see Arnie do something different, bringing a darker character to life in a grittier feature than most would be used to from him. Unfortunately it would appear that the Director’s original vision was not approved by the Studios and so all we get is this flawed abbreviated version which focuses more on the action and clearly loses plenty in the somewhat incoherent narrative, particularly going off the rails towards the end.
It’s a shame we’ll never get to see Ayer’s original first cut, but even this flawed near-producer’s cut is worth checking out.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get excellent video and very good audio, as well as a fairly light selection of extras that thankfully showcases a decent amount of Deleted / Alternate footage, giving you a flavour for some of Ayer’s alternate ideas. As an Arnie fan, it’s a must-have purchase really – one of his best performances – and it’s certainly worth a watch for those willing to give it a shot, but be prepared to have to swallow some pretty frustrating flaws.
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