You've got a decision to make. Pretend you can take either your mind or
your heart with you to COLLATERAL DAMAGE. If you choose your mind, you
won't be able to forgive the film's long list of illogical and improbable
elements, and you may hate it. (Of course, you don't want to try James
Bond pictures with your brain engaged either.) But if you go with your
heart, you'll probably enjoy this adrenaline-pumping combination of an
Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick and an anti-terrorist missive.
Directed explosively by Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), the movie concerns an
L.A. fireman, Gordon Brewer (Schwarzenegger), turned superhuman vigilante.
Brewer is a big-hearted guy who still retains his compassion for the
vulnerable while on his deadly mission to kill the terrorist who
accidentally kills his family. Brewer's wife and young son are collateral
damage in a bomb attack. In short order, using Schwarzenegger's typically
over-the-top language, Brewer tells a group of terrorist sympathizers, "You
want collateral damage, I'll give you collateral damage," as he trashes
Pulled from its scheduled late September release date, the movie is at once
topical and dated. Clearly made before 9/11, the presidential
administration's response to terrorism on American soil is to call for calm
and moderation. If this sounds unbelievable now, remember that this was the
exact response after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. But the
idea of a terrorist network, operating in the United States and willing to
attack our nation's capitol, is something that can no longer be ridiculed as
One of the complaints about the movie is that the bad guys are Colombians.
One group of Colombian-Americans appeared on a national news show to
complain about Colombians being singled out as bad guys. When asked by the
host which group would make acceptable bad guys, the response was, "There
shouldn't be bad guys in movies." Sure.
As you're rooting for Arnold, you can't help but a get a chuckle out of some
of his predicaments. When he arrives in Colombia to go undercover to find
and kill the terrorist leader, El Lobo (Cliff Curtis), he has to blend in
with the locals. Among a group of moderate height, brown skinned people of
Spanish descent, a ten-foot tall, white guy with a thick Austrian accent
does tend to stand out.
Whenever you're inclined to dismiss entirely the notion that an individual
citizen can take over fights best left to the CIA or to special ops forces,
remember the bravery of the passengers aboard the doomed flight headed for
our capitol that went down over Pennsylvania. COLLATERAL DAMAGE rings true
even if some of the actions don't. Your heart will be touched, and your
blood will rush. It's too bad that Arnold couldn't be sent after Osama.
But there are probably many Arnold equivalents at work now. They just don't
make twenty million per operation.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE runs 1:55. It is rated R for "violence and some language"
and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes