Collateral Damage Movie Review
Collateral Damage stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rough 'n' tough fireman, whose family is murdered in a bombing by notorious Columbian terrorist "The Wolf." Confronted with the inability and unwillingness of the U.S. government to seek justice, our fireman hero decides to take matters into his own hands and heads to Columbia to seek revenge. In one sense, this film is almost uniquely appropriate to the world's post-9/11 environment, presenting as it does such a larger than life hero, who just so happens to be a fireman, a group we are all looking to these days as real-life heroes. Yet, on the other hand, Collateral Damage is clearly the product of a different era. Blatantly and painfully pointing out our pre-9/11 ignorance, never has America's innocence been shown so clearly and by such a poorly made movie.
Politics aside, Collateral Damage is a ridiculous premise inhabited by a poorly developed hero and incomplete villains. Apparently, a lone, completely untrained fireman can easily accomplish what billions of dollars and hundreds of heavily armed military men and machines cannot. Now, any old Arnold film requires a certain degree of faith and suspension of disbelief to hang on to at all, but Collateral Damage asks more than a simple leap of faith -- Arnold expects us all to jump directly off a cliff along with him.
Assuming you can somehow manage to swallow the plot, you'll still find yourself having trouble swallowing Arnold's characteristically unique acting. Arnold's grieving is virtually indistinguishable from his hell-bent-on-revenge mania. It's so overwrought that it gets to the point where I wasn't entirely convinced that I was really supposed to sympathize with this fireman character. He's clearly a man's man, but he might not be better off in some sort of institution?
Even the trademark Schwarzenegger action is no saving grace. Arnold never even picks up a gun (this is, after all, the kinder, gentler Arnold-as-responsible-parent). He spends more time fiddling with explosives and complicated triggers than he does beating up baddies in the name of justice. Would it have helped if he had kicked a little more ass? Probably not, but in his case it never hurts.
The truth is, the world has changed, we have changed, and this film has not. Every moment is a reminder of what the world once was and is no more. It's mildly satisfying in its own way to watch a hard-edged fireman kick terrorist ass; but the reality is that even this silly movie can't convince us for a second that the solution is really all that simple.
The DVD features a 9/11-heavy commentary and a 9/11-heavy short documentary/interview package. The deleted scenes (about 6 minutes worth) mercifully have nothing to do with 9/11.
Dead or alive. Preferably dead.
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