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Collateral Damage

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Director: Andrew Davis
Genre: Action
Year: 2002
Rating: 3 / 5

In the eight years since True Lies, Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in films that range from completely average to mildly disappointing. None of his films are true bombs, yet none of his films are the successes that were so common for the action star in the 1980s. Collateral Damage is another one of these formulaic, middle-of-the-road action films, the type that Arnie could handle in his sleep. This is not to say that Collateral Damage is not entertaining. On the contrary, the film, littered throughout with explosions and violence, has such a controversial centerpiece - domestic terrorism - that its release was delayed for four months due to September 11. The film shows flickers of promise, but I cannot shake the feeling that I have seen Arnie do all of this before.

Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a law-abiding Los Angeles fire fighter, a father of one, and a devoted husband. All of that changes when a terrorist's bomb explodes outside of a downtown office building, killing his wife and child. The FBI and the CIA have surveillance tapes of the incident, and they even know the culprit, a South American mercenary known as The Wolf. Alas, they are unable to capture their prey, allowing him to flee to Colombia. Couple this with the government's decision to order the CIA to vacate war-ravaged Colombia, and Gordon Brewer is left without justice. It leaves him only one alternative - he must go to Colombia and find justice himself.

Journeying through the jungles and rivers of guerrilla territory in Colombia, Brewer is determined to find The Wolf. At the same time, he is being pursued by Colombian police, other mercenaries, and the CIA. When he is captured and taken prisoner, he learns the deadliest of secrets - The Wolf is planning another assault on America. Brewer must race back to our nation's capital, hoping to thwart a vengeful man's wicked plans and find some vengeance of his own. What separates Brewer's raging hatred from that exhibited by his foes? Is he really any better than those he pursues, or is he merely fooling himself?

Director Andrew Davis wisely keeps the plot moving briskly, otherwise we might begin to wonder how Schwarzenegger is able to track a band of terrorists when our country's top agencies bumble around incessantly. To Arnie's credit, he tries to shake his comfortable "superman" persona, choosing instead to play it straight as a simple - does that word even apply anymore? - firefighter pushed to his limits. Despite inching farther and farther past fifty, Arnie can still dance around the screen with the best of them, and he is always an easy hero to root for. If only his films were not so maddeningly average - efforts like Eraser, The Sixth Day, and this only serve to contrast with Arnie's earliest work. One can only hope that sequels to the Terminator and True Lies franchises can return some of the shine to this star.


Arnold Schwarzenegger..........Gordon Brewer
Cliff Curtis..........Claudio Perrini
Francesca Neri..........Selena Perrini
John Turturro..........Sean Armstrong
John Leguiziamo..........Felix Ramirez

Certification: Rated R for violence.
Running Time: 115 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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