Runtime: 109 Mins
What To Expect: A sturdy home release complete with originally intended ending
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The Movie Itself:
When I originally reviewed this thriller, I said that Arnold picked the right director in David Ayer, but picked the wrong movie. That was only true to a certain extent, as made evident with this Blu Ray release, which throws in the original ending. Something that would’ve presented us with a different (superior) movie. But the movie itself released is the version that had reshoots pegged to it, so that’s the cut that has to be reviewed here, again. The theatrical cut is dull and kind of unsatisfactory, a very average movie. Unfortunately that seems to be the version we’re stuck with.
Schwarzenegger leads a team of elite DEA agents and at the beginning of the movie, they launch a dirty raid on dirty money, which then goes missing. Throughout the movie as Schwarzenegger’s team get picked off, the story then asks, who did it and why. By the time it finishes, there are of course twists here and there. The whole thing though feels underdeveloped, the big events happen to near-nameless faces, so who gives a damn? There’s few ways to describe the characters other than two dimensional. Okay, so that’s hardly a first for an Arnie movie, but this is supposed to be picture of substance. You can get away with 2D characters in a movie like Raw Dead, but not in a story-driven thriller that wants to walk in the same footsteps as the likes of Cop Land.
The movie is typically a gritty David Ayer flick with almost documentary-style, fly on the wall violence. And it was veering towards an ending that suited it and might have made it less than forgettable. The ending doesn’t fit, it pushes the movie down to 6/10 as opposed to a higher score. Bottom line. It doesn’t quite work. It should’ve been Arnold’s Cop Land. Instead it’s mediocre and it just about avoids slipping into ‘bad movie’ territory. Arnold can’t afford duds like this at this stage in his career.
The disc release comes with the usual package expected nowadays. The triple combo of Ultra Violet download, DVD and Blu Ray. Let’s face it, we’re here for the Blu Ray. Whatever your thoughts on the movie itself, this home release does it decent justice. The MPEG-4 AVC encode is pretty much standard fare, not standing out as any worse or better than a typical Blu Ray release. Our eyes have adjusted so much to 1080p now that only something truly awful or spectacular is going to stand out. And while I had initial reservations that an overly crisp transfer might not compliment Ayer’s ‘gritty’ style, it looks just fine.
The real meat here? The cuts scenes. 17 minutes of deleted scenes show what was taken from a movie that was evidently handled nervously by the studio. But there’s more. Two alternate endings, one two minutes long, another nine minutes long. These alternate endings are what was originally intended by the director and watching them puts a different slant on the movie that comes before, including putting a different interpretation on Arnold’s performance in my opinion. It’s difficult to outline why without going into spoilers but it’s a darker finish and compliments the movie better and by comparison makes the theatrical ending seem like a rip off.
Elsewhere on the disc a negative is the absence of any commentary, forget any words by either Arnold or Ayer, they’re not here. A further and final positive comes the obligatory “making of”, although be forewarned that it’s a pretty slim documentary that lasts just under nine minutes. What would’ve made this a perfect Blu Ray though would’ve been a branching option for that moodier and more streamlined ending but as it stands, it’s only there as an extra. Perhaps adventurous editors might attempt to edit their own version of the movie, but really, that’s the studios job.
If you like the movie, this should be on your radar without question. If you were neither here nor there about it, it should still be on your radar. Somewhere, not a bad movie lurks for Sabotage – probably in the form of a director’s cut.
We demand it!