Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen can’t be called much of a comeback as The Last Stand, Escape Plan and Sabotage were all bombs. Sabotage tanked the hardest as it was barely able to cross the ten million dollar mark. Perhaps Arnie will regain his footing from his role in the upcoming Terminator sequel, but it seems unlikely that he will ever front a non-sequel again (or at least for another five years). That’s too bad as Sabotage is a fun throwback to his early eighties action movies which delivers the “red meat city” PG-13 action movies of late are unable to do. Mixing Commando with a slasher sensibility, Sabotage has Schwarzenegger leading a team of DEA agents (including Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and Sam Worthington) who are being hunted and by a mysterious killer. My Sabotage Blu-ray review follows after the jump.
After losing his wife and child to a cartel killing, John ‘Breacher’ Warton (Schwarzenegger) leads his team — which is made up of James ‘Monster’ Murray (Worthington) and wife Lizzy Murray (Enos), Joe ‘Grinder’ Phillips (Manganiello), Eddie ‘Neck’ Jordan (Josh Holloway), Julius ‘Sugar’ Edmonds (Howard), Tom ‘Pyro’ Roberts (Max Martini) Bryce ‘Tripod’ McNeely (Kevin Vance), and ‘Smoke’ Jennings (Mark Schlegel) — to take out some drug runners and to steal ten million when they’re done. But when they go to the cash drop spot, the money is missing. The group are then questioned by the DEA about the missing money, but everyone stays mum. Eventually, the team is put back into active duty, but then one of their team is killed.
This gets investigated by Caroline (Olivia Williams) and her partner Jackson (Harold Perrineau), but the crime scene is labeled an accident. But then when another team member dies, it seems that Breacher’s crew are being picked off one by one. Some suspect the cartel getting revenge, while – with the money still missing – the team suspect each other.
Written and directed by David Ayer (with Skip Woods also working on the script), the director continues with the visceral digital style he used so well in End of Watch, and it gives the film an immediacy and the violence and gunplay a lot of bite. Working with a great cast of character actors, there’s always someone interesting on screen, and Ayer provides everyone with smart-ass dialogue that shows these are salty professionals used to killing and getting into trouble.
This may be the best cast ever assembled around Arnold, and Schwarzenegger is a good anchor for the material as he’s called on to be stoic and the rock of the group. You know that he’s unlikely to die until the end (if at all), but considering his range, he’s perfect in it. This may be the most John Wayne role in Arnold’s career. That said, it’s the other actors who get more time to shine, with Mireille Enos the standout as her character is a drug addict and on the edge of sanity for much of the film, but — like everyone she works with — she’s good at her job. And for what it’s worth this is probably my favorite Sam Worthington performance post-Avatar.
But the film feels a little hamstrung in the final act as it seems that the finale and the resolution aren’t one in the same. The last ten minutes feel like a reshoot, and though audiences rejected the film before they even saw it, if the film had opened and bombed, I’d blame it on that. It turns out that the ending was reshot, and that the film’s original ending is much more interesting and makes sense in the context of the film.
And that ending is (Spoilers, naturally) that Arnold was the one pulling the strings and helping wipe the team out so he could get away with the money all by himself. It’s likely that test audiences rejects seeing Schwarzenegger as the bad guy, but had that ending stuck, it’s possible the film would have been more successful. Because at least it would have given people something to talk about.
Universal presents the film on Blu-ray with a DVD and digital copy. The film is presented widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The disc comes with two alternate endings (11 min.), which changes who survives, while the eight deleted scenes (17 min.) highlight what was trimmed to make the ending more pro-Arnold. There’s also a very puffy making of included (9 min.).