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September 2, 2014
Sabotage Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
28/3/2014 (USA)31/7/2014Universal SonyDavid Ayer
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4 (50Hz)DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Schwarzenegger as Breacher in Sabotage.

Growing up Arnold Schwarzenegger was a massive part of my life with his films a constant favourite. This hasn't changed as I have grown up and my fanaticism has remained following his hiatus from films while running California. Since Arnold's return to films his output has been a mixed bag.

Cameos in The Expendables films have been entertaining but brief, The Last Stand was an entertaining but ultimately average and poorly marketed action comedy, Escape Plan wasn't released in Australia due to some idiotic decision while this film, Sabotage, was pulled from theatrical release following a disastrous American box office opening weekend. Finally though the film is out on Blu-Ray and we were keen to check it out.

In Sabotage, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Breacher who leads an elite DEA task force that takes on the world's deadliest drug cartels. When the team successfully executes a high-stakes raid on a cartel safe house, they think their work is done - until, one-by-one, the ten members mysteriously start to be eliminated. As the body count rises, everyone is a suspect.

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Arnold is badass in Sabotage.
The first thing that stands out about this film is the superb cast which is of course led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but sees him surrounded by actors such as Sam Worthington (Avatar), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), Josh Holloway (Lost), Mireille Enos (World War Z) and Max Martini (Pacific Rim). Everyone really plays their well superbly and David Ayer's attention to detail for action films is retained here - this is quite a realistic interpretation of agents during battle.

Of course the star of the show is Arnold Schwarzenegger and this is really a great return to form for him. He looks a lot fitter then in previous post-Governor roles, but he also looks and acts like a badass DEA agent in this film. He commands the screen, and yes, while he's getting older, he never looks like Breacher couldn't be a real agent.

So what about the film itself? Well there are certainly some great bits, the action sequences are intense, realistic, frantic and certainly bloody - just how action should be. Editing too deserves a mention - there is one sequence in particular where Breacher is investigating a missing friend, and the house investigation is interwoven with scenes showing what had happened previously. It's hard to explain but great to see.

Where the film loses points is with the plot. There are holes everywhere - $US10 million goes missing but the team had blown up and burnt a remaining pile of cash - so how did the teams superiors know money was missing in the first place? Why was Breacher isolated from his team when they were able to sit around together still? Then there is the ending which, well, without spoiling anything, is a little surprising and a bit of a misfire - still three's a lot worse as seen in the unused alternate endings on the disc!

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Mireille Enos is great as Lizzy.
While The Expendables 3 is meant to revive the action films of the 1980s with old- school action and violence it was a complete letdown on so many levels. Ultimately we've found Sabotage to be a vastly superior experience with some brutal action sequences and a fantastic cast. Sure, it's not among Arnie's best films, but given the straight to DVD/Blu-Ray release it was a lot better than we expected.

The video transfer of Sabotage is the most bewildering we have seen in some years on Blu-Ray. Theatrically the movie was released at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which has been modified slightly to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio on Blu-Ray. Annoying, but I can live with that. What is even worse though is that the film is encoded at the standard 1920 x 1080 resolution but at 50Hz interlaced meaning it also suffers the 4% PAL speedup issue resulting in a 104 minute runtime instead of 109 minutes. This, in 2014, is pretty unacceptable.

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Joe Manganiello co-stars in Sabotage.
Now, having said all that, from an artistic standpoint Sabotage is a pretty good film visually with gun battles well shot and easy to follow (unlike so many super quick-cut action sequences these days). Detail remains good even during the darker scenes however these niceties are hurt by the issues detailed above although, of course, this Blu-Ray is vastly superior to the DVD release.

Audio is provided on the Sabotage Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16- bit/48Khz) track that provides a lively sound field at all times with clarity to the dialogue and aggressive use of surround sound channels during the action sequences, and a rather lively car chase.

The disc contains no other audio tracks and only a single English Subtitles for the Hard of Hearing track. We sampled the subtitles at various points throughout the film and not only were they accurate to the dialogue but also colour coded according to who is talking in the scene for ease of following.

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The drug cartel leader is captured.
There are only a couple of extras on this disc with the large number of deleted scenes being the highlight - hopefully one day we will see an extended cut of the film. Oh, and in the bizarrest move these clips are all presented in 24p frame rate!?

Making Sabotage (8:32/HD): This is a short and pretty run of the mill making of featurette which is intended to sell the film more then anything else. Some decent on-set footage and interviews with a few tidbits of interesting information at least.

Deleted Scenes (14:58/HD): Apparently David Ayer cut around an hour of footage from the final film (possibly at the studio's request as they wanted a more action oriented film) but some of those scenes are provided here, with some quite different material and a new subplot not in the main film surrounding a missing girl.

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Sabotage is a solid action film.
Alternate Endings (19:55/HD): Two endings are provided here, moderately similar, but both are inferior to the ending which made it into the final cut.

Sabotage isn't a great film, but it is very good so action fans, and particularly those of Arnold Schwarzenegger, would do well to check this out. It's a solid performance by the cast, there are a few cool action sequences and the story is solid, if slightly flawed towards the end. Worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Universal Sony. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.