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Blu-ray Review: Sabotage

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★★★★☆

Sabotage is the fourth film from David Ayer, who made Harsh Times and Street Kings, then took a seven year break from directing before returning to make the acclaimed police/found-footage movie End of Watch. His follow-up to that expertly-directed crime drama is very different in tone and style.

The cinema vérité remains, though not within a juddery-found-footage framework, but the script (penned by Ayer himself) is absolutely bizarre. ‘Let’s go do the Lords work!’, is a typical example. ‘We just had to go fingering the devil’s pussy!’ is another classic. ‘Ammo is cheap. My life ain’t’. They go on and on. The cast is equally preposterous. We’ve got an ancient Arnold Schwarzenegger, Same Worthington who has gone through an unsettling Hippie-Hobbit transformation since Avatar and Wrath of the Titans, and Olivia Williams (pictured above) as a tough-speaking-no-nonsense cop.

The plot follows a DEA tactical team of weirdos (of which Schwarzenegger is the head of) who start to get bumped off one by one. They may have been a bit naughty during a drugs bust ($10 million is missing) and someone wants revenge. Part shoot-em-up thriller, part murder-mystery, the film becomes a deliciously dark and disturbing cocktail of intrigue and action.

Ayer has crafted this film with a skill and range worth recognising. He pulls out a performance of depth and intelligence from Schwarzenegger and widely pushes Williams to the forefront. I like to think of this film as an off-the-wall spin-off from her ITV crime drama Case Sensitive (unceremoniously axed last year) where her character leaves Buckinghamshire for the US and quickly adopts a Southern American accent and lets her morals slide. It isn’t, of course, but what a twist that would be.

Mistakenly approached as both a stupid actioner (unfair) and a high-class film like End of Watch (it isn’t), Sabotage is a beast of its own. There is something close to Lee Daniels’s The Paperboy, or even the little-seen Helen Mirren-starring Shadowboxer, lurking around the corners of this film. It’s strange, feisty, tasty and mad as hell. I couldn’t help but love it.

A note on the disc: The transfer offered by Lionsgate is as stunning one would expect a recently made, Arri Alexa-shot movie to look. The shound mix is also terrific and sounds amazing on a surround-sound system. A blisteringly good release.

Sabotage is available on digital platforms from 1st September, 2014, and on Blu-ray and DVD from 15th September, 2014, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

 

 




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