Anthony's Film Review

Collateral Damage (2002)

Though a fairly standard action thriller, this movie still works...

Collateral Damage is the movie in Arnold Schwarzenegger's career that people will definitely remember as timely. And I mean too timely. You see, this is an action movie about terrorism, originally slated for release in October 2001. When the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred, Schwarzenegger made a wise but not surprising suggestion: delay release of Collateral Damage. In fact, I remember him talking about this practically on 9/11 itself. Now, does this mean real-life terrorism has ruined the thrills of this movie? In my opinion, if there is such an effect, it's rather minimal.

Schwarzenegger plays a firefighter named Gordon Brewer. He drives to pick up his wife and son when there is an explosion outside of a building. (So in case you're wondering, the magnitude of this fictional terror attack is nowhere close to 9/11.) Brewer's wife and son are among the innocent bystanders who are killed in the attack. In other words, collateral damage. From there, what happens next is predictable. Brewer learns that a Colombian terrorist named Claudio Perrini, a.k.a. El Lobo, is behind the attack and is someone whom Brewer briefly spoke with. However, Brewer doesn't believe the United States government can catch El Lobo.

With that, Brewer takes the matter into his own hands. He goes to Colombia to hunt down the terrorist himself. What's interesting is that the Schwarzenegger cliches aren't really present. Brewer is tough, but he's not fearless and in a position to easily win every gunfight. He's very much a vulnerable character. In most of the action scenes in Colombia, Brewer spends more time trying to escape rather than take on the bad guys himself. One cool action scene involves guerilla fighters attacking the prison where Brewer is held in order to free captured guerillas. There's a lot of explosions even as Brewer is still behind bars.

As for other characters, they either have plenty of screen time but don't leave too much of an impression on the audience or are interesting but appear just briefly. The former includes Cliff Curtis as Claudio, Francesca Neri as his wife Selena, and Elias Koteas as government agent Peter Brandt. The latter includes John Leguizamo as drug kingpin Felix Ramirez and John Turturro as a prisoner named Sean Armstrong. Basically, the characters seems like stock characters, not any more developed than the essentially standard plot.

But I will say that the climax of the movie is the reason to see Collateral Damage. It involves the best action of the movie and features a twist I didn't see coming. (Just so you know, there is one moment where things harken back to 9/11 a little more than the explosion in the beginning of the movie, but it's not overdone.) At this point, one can admire the direction of Andrew Davis, who previously directed the brilliant 1993 thriller The Fugitive. When it's all over, there's a feeling of satisfaction. Not a huge one, but one that is sufficient for fans of action movies.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Collateral Damage, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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