"An Unrealistic but Gripping Vengeance Movie"
What You Need To Know:
COLLATERAL DAMAGE stars Arnold Swarzeneggar in his latest action movie. On his way to pick up his loving family outside the Colombian consulate at the city’s busy business center, Fireman Gordon Brewer, or “Gordy,” (Schwarzeneger) casually bumps into Claudio “The Wolf” Perrini, a vicious South American terrorist who will soon become the object of Gordy's dogged pursuit. It is too late to stop the Wolf’s powerful explosion meant to kill some important consulate and American intelligence officials, and it claims the lives of his wife and son in the process. Though injured, Gordy quickly learns all he can about the enemy and prepares to launch a seek and destroy mission that will take him all the way to the terrorist’s lair in the deepest part of the Colombian rain forest.
With typical violence and language and the need for “willing suspension of disbelief,” this Schwarzenegger movie is a wild ride on the personal quest for vengeance. Thankfully, there is no sex or nudity, however. The usual political pontificating is also thankfully minimized, opting instead for generalized, if flawed, altruistic ideals suggesting that those who use evil means eventually become evil themselves.
(Pa, H, B, Ro, LL, VVV, M) Pagan world view with muddled discussion regarding the philosophical concepts of justice, revenge, good & evil; secondary romantic theme with emotions ruling actions; about 15-20 obscenities & vulgarities; extreme violence with many people being killed mostly by gunfire, but without gore; no sex, nudity, alcohol, or smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality seen in revenge elements.
From the dubious premise of a Los Angeles firefighter single-handedly wreaking havoc among a well armed and ruthless guerrilla force in the jungles of Colombia, to a ludicrous ensemble of barely competent, but nevertheless equally ruthless government agents, the plot of COLLATERAL DAMAGE is unrealistic. On the other hand, if the simultaneously bereaved yet enraged fireman seeking justice after his wife and son are killed in a terrorist attack happens to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, who cares? An action packed thriller is sure to follow.
On his way to pick up his loving family outside the Colombian consulate at the city’s busy business center, Fireman Gordon Brewer, or “Gordy,” (Schwarzeneger) casually bumps into Claudio “The Wolf” Perrini (Cliff Curtis), a vicious South American terrorist who may not know it yet but will soon become the object of Gordy’s dogged pursuit for the rest of the movie’s 115 minute running time. It is too late at that moment, however, to stop the powerful explosion meant to kill some important consulate and American intelligence officials, and it claims the lives of his wife and son in the process.
Running to his family in desperation after the explosion, Gordy is struck by a car and winds up in the hospital recovering from his injuries. If the medicine is revenge, this is just what the doctor ordered, and Gordy doesn’t waste any time hatching his clever plan of action. Quickly, he learns all he can about the enemy and prepares to launch a seek and destroy mission that will take him all the way to the terrorist’s lair in the deepest part of the Colombian rain forest. Once on the ground in Colombia, Gordy moves inexorably closer to his prey, helped along the way by a Canadian mercenary (John Turturo). The mercenary provides him with the means to infiltrate the Guerrillas’ inner sanctum, where Gordy also meets the beautiful Selena (Francesca Neri) and her little son, a boy eerily reminiscent of Gordy’s own lost family. Can this be just a coincidence, or a gift from heaven?
Regrettably, before Gordy can draw any sort of parallels, and right about the time his ultimate goal seems to be within reach, he experiences some major setbacks, but hardly sufficient to deter this one man wrecking crew from continuing his unstoppable mission. Making his mission more urgent is the fact that “The Wolf” is getting ready to strike at the very heart of the United States, in typical lethal fashion. In a final race against time, Gordy must gather all the physical and intellectual strength he can muster to try to defeat his cunningly evil enemy.
Arguably not as well written and produced as the earlier TRUE LIES, COLLATERAL DAMAGE, despite its many shortcomings, still manages to serve a strong punch with riveting action and considerable suspense – even throwing in a couple of interesting twists to rescue the lackluster writing of Ronald Roose and David and Peter Griffiths.
Directed by Andrew Davis, who also directed THE FUGITIVE with excellent results, this movie resuscitates the spectacular river fall plunge of his previous movie while coasting on the charismatic persona of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the typical predictable formulas of the genre that Arnold almost single-handedly created. Credit, however, should be allowed for keeping sex and obscene language to a minimum. The usual political pontificating that Hollywood always manages to throw in for good measure is also thankfully minimized, opting instead for generalized, if flawed, altruistic ideals suggesting that those who use evil means eventually become evil themselves.
In a sensitive, if not calculated, move by the producers, COLLATERAL DAMAGE was held back from release while a nation in shock had a chance to recover in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attack. It is hard, however, not to notice how much worse reality can be. In this movie, innocent bystanders are collateral damage, while in real life the general population has now become the target itself. That is a frightening reality indeed, and yet another sign of how in the 21st century, rather than having become more enlightened by technological progress, the unredeemed children of Adam continue to be as depraved as they have always been, if not worse.