Sacrifice – Blu-Ray Review

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a cop who doesn't follow the rules... of good narrative fiction.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

There comes a point while watching Sacrifice, the new Straight-to-Video action drama that came out this week, that you just want to smack the movie upside the head. Make up your mind, Sacrifice! Are you just another in a long line of ponderous dramas about the perils of the drug trade, or are you just another in a long line of low-rent action movies about a cop who plays by his own rules? Either one is fine, to a point, but you can’t be a movie in which Cuba Gooding Jr. plays chicken with an oncoming car – and wins without a car, mind you – and also put up serious-sounding statistics about narcotics at the start and end of the film. It’s a wishy-washy film that never commits to one genre or the other, and ends up less than either. In its attempt to be all things to all people, Sacrifice sacrifices the narrative consistency it needed to stand up to much better films.

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays John Hebron, a cop who lost his family to vengeful drug dealers but curiously has more interest in falling asleep drunk at his kitchen table (which happens a lot) than in taking them down. The film bounces back and forth between John and Mike (Devon Bostick of Diary of a Wimpy Kid), a young drug dealer just trying to get out of the business to care for his little sister, and for a while it’s really unclear whose story we’re supposed to be following. John gets it into his head that the best way to extricate himself from organized crime is to steal $10 million worth of heroin in the form of a Virgin Mary statue and sell it back to his rightful owners. This goes about as well as could be imagined, and before long John has to clean up the mess and take matters – and the law – into his own hands. And by ‘before long’ what I really mean is ‘way too late to be interesting.’

Yes, Sacrifice is a rather dull film. There’s a scene I really like towards the end where John goes into a night club and starts eyeing the criminals in the room, who then eye him back, and then it goes on like that for a while until a random extra just says ‘Screw it’ and goes all guns-ablazing. I sympathized with this hapless individual, who God bless her just wanted something to happen. There are a few isolated instances of eventfulness towards the start of the film, in which John takes down some random drug dealer at an ice skating rink or dances naked in front of his shrink for no particular reason, but most of the film consists of overly earnest looks from Devon Bostick, bizarre overacting from a bad guy who looks like a meaner version of Chris Colfer from Glee (and acts a bit like him too), and thoroughly unconvincing growls from Cuba Gooding Jr., who is asked by practically every character in the film whether he’s sold his house yet. It’s a bizarrely pervasive question considering how mundane it is: kinda like “Who is Keyser Soze?” but without any dramatic interest.

Oh yeah, and Christian Slater is in it. He’s pretty good, actually. And the film was directed by Damian Lee, who gets a free pass in my book because he also directed the comedy classic Ski School. So I guess I can’t get too upset about this. 

Sacrifice comes to Blu-Ray in an adequate transfer that doesn’t so much betray the film’s low-budget origins and confirm them outright. It looks and sounds as good as it’s going to look and sound, but even if it turns out to be your favorite movie of all time it’s never going to be your demo disc. The Blu-Ray opens with a series of (mercifully skippable) trailers and only offers a single special feature in its ‘Special Features’ section, which almost makes me want to sue for false advertising because of a tiny errant ‘s.’ It’s a ‘Making of’ featurette titled ‘Sacrificium,’ and is pretty good for this sort of thing but not worth watching unless you actually enjoyed the film.

Sacrifice just isn’t particularly good. It’s not inept but it’s unfocused, uninvolving and it takes itself too seriously to be enjoyed, and it isn’t enjoyable enough to take seriously. I don’t recommend sacrificing your free time to see it.

Crave Online Rating: 4.5/10