Collateral Damage


Arnold Schwarzenegger as Gordon Brewer
Elias Koteas as CIA Agent Peter Brandt
Francesca Neri as Selena Perrini
Cliff Curtis as Claudio ‘The Wolf’ Perrini
John Leguizamo as Felix Ramirez
John Turturro as Sean Armstrong
Lindsay Frost
Jsu Garcia as Roman
Shelley Malil as Doctor
Tyler Posey as Mauro
Harry J. Lennix

Collateral Damage is your typical Schwarzenegger action popcorn flick that deals with the very real and sensitive issue of terrorism.

Gordon Brewer is your typical all American Austrian bodybuilding fireman. He has a happy life with his wife and young son. That world is destroyed when his family is killed in a terrorist bombing by Colombian guerillas. Initially overcome by grief, he resolves to track down the terrorist responsible for the attack in Colombia. Brewer must sneak into the country then find his way to their hidden camp. Unfortunately he doesn’t know who is a friend and who is the real enemy.

This film is rated R for violence and some language.

What Worked:
If you enjoy a standard Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, then you’ll like this. It is Arnie kicking butt and coming out on top in the end. It has the typical action scenes you’d expect including Arnold pulling a “Mike Tyson” stunt on a terrorist. It’s sufficient for making the audience cringe and cheer at the same time.

Despite being mostly predictable, the movie does offer a couple of twists that you may not see coming. Suffice it to say that you can’t always tell the good guys from the bad.

For the most part, the terrorists are your typical cartoon bad guys throughout the film. However, they do try to offer up a human side to the main bad guy. While you don’t condone his actions in the film, you do understand his reasons for doing them. They pose the interesting moral question of when does Arnold, in his quest for revenge, become like the terrorist he’s fighting? The movie doesn’t fully explore the issue, but at least it attempts to touch on it.

There are a couple of great cameos in the film. John Leguizamo plays a drug lord with aspirations of becoming a rapper. John Turturro from “O, Brother Where Art Thou?” plays a Canadian mechanic imprisoned with Brewer. Both characters add some much needed comic relief and provide some of the highlights of the film. Unfortunately their roles are rather short.

What Didn’t Work:
Collateral Damage had the misfortune of having an initial release date shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. While time has taken some of the edge off of it, it is still difficult to watch cartoon terrorists on the big screen. This is especially true during the bombing scene where the kid is killed. They even have the gall to show Brewer video footage of his wife and child being incinerated by the blast. Not only was it unrealistic, it was a bit gratuitous.

Despite being pretty much completed before Sept. 11, some of the subject matter seems hokey. Arnold’s character is a firefighter. There are impassioned speeches about fighting terrorists. Even though all this was written long before it was popular, it comes across as cashing in on the patriotic atmosphere in the country these days. About the only thing they didn’t do was have Arnie impale the bad guy on an American flag.

Though Collateral Damage is a decent action flick, it doesn’t really offer up anything new. This film will be entirely forgettable a year from now. And as much as I like Schwarzenegger, this role could have been played by anyone. In fact, a hulking Austrian seems rather miscast in a movie like this. I’d like to say this film is a fun escape from reality, but it hits a little too close to home. It’s an action movie misplaced in time.