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Collateral Damage

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Francesca Neri, Elias Koteas, John Turturro, Cliff Curtis, Lindsay Frost

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

You've got a decision to make. Pretend you can take either your mind or your heart with you to COLLATERAL DAMAGE. If you choose your mind, you won't be able to forgive the film's long list of illogical and improbable elements, and you may hate it. (Of course, you don't want to try James Bond pictures with your brain engaged either.) But if you go with your heart, you'll probably enjoy this adrenaline-pumping combination of an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick and an anti-terrorist missive.

Directed explosively by Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), the movie concerns an L.A. fireman, Gordon Brewer (Schwarzenegger), turned superhuman vigilante. Brewer is a big-hearted guy who still retains his compassion for the vulnerable while on his deadly mission to kill the terrorist who accidentally kills his family. Brewer's wife and young son are collateral damage in a bomb attack. In short order, using Schwarzenegger's typically over-the-top language, Brewer tells a group of terrorist sympathizers, "You want collateral damage, I'll give you collateral damage," as he trashes their offices.

Pulled from its scheduled late September release date, the movie is at once topical and dated. Clearly made before 9/11, the presidential administration's response to terrorism on American soil is to call for calm and moderation. If this sounds unbelievable now, remember that this was the exact response after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. But the idea of a terrorist network, operating in the United States and willing to attack our nation's capitol, is something that can no longer be ridiculed as being far-fetched.

One of the complaints about the movie is that the bad guys are Colombians. One group of Colombian-Americans appeared on a national news show to complain about Colombians being singled out as bad guys. When asked by the host which group would make acceptable bad guys, the response was, "There shouldn't be bad guys in movies." Sure.

As you're rooting for Arnold, you can't help but a get a chuckle out of some of his predicaments. When he arrives in Colombia to go undercover to find and kill the terrorist leader, El Lobo (Cliff Curtis), he has to blend in with the locals. Among a group of moderate height, brown skinned people of Spanish descent, a ten-foot tall, white guy with a thick Austrian accent does tend to stand out.

Whenever you're inclined to dismiss entirely the notion that an individual citizen can take over fights best left to the CIA or to special ops forces, remember the bravery of the passengers aboard the doomed flight headed for our capitol that went down over Pennsylvania. COLLATERAL DAMAGE rings true even if some of the actions don't. Your heart will be touched, and your blood will rush. It's too bad that Arnold couldn't be sent after Osama. But there are probably many Arnold equivalents at work now. They just don't make twenty million per operation.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE runs 1:55. It is rated R for "violence and some language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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