BY MATT GRANDSTAFF
Weekend Magazine Editor
Published February 11, 2002
In early September of 2001, the previews for "Collateral Damage" appeared to reveal nothing more than a typical Schwarzenegger shoot-em-up action flick with the film"s plot being pure terrorism clich. Following the horrible events of Sept. 11, however, the film"s theme hit too close to home for the producers of the film, and it was delayed indefinitely.
Five months later, "Collateral Damage" has finally hit theaters nationwide. But while the country has had time to heal from the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., "Collateral Damage" still leaves an unsettling thoughts in one"s mind. This is because Schwarzenegger"s character, a firefighter named Brody Brewer, has his life torn apart when he witnesses his wife and son die from a terrorist attack on a Columbian embassy in Los Angeles.
Following the death of his family, Brewer goes into a deep depression, which is snapped when a Columbian reporter states that his family"s death is merely a case of collateral damage as a result of American soldiers staying in Columbia. In "Commando"-esque fashion, Schwarzenegger"s character then decides that he must take matters into his own hands and take out the terrorist responsible, known as "El Lobo," (played by Cliff Curtis).
For the next hour of the film, Brewer slips out of sticky situations left and right by jumping over waterfalls, running through the woods and avoiding FBI and Columbian agents much in the same way Richard Kimble averts the authorities after him in 1993"s "The Fugitive." This comes as no surprise, as director Andrew Davis is responsible for both films.
The remainder of the film involves various confrontations between Brewer and "El Lobo." These scenes are the most interesting of the film, as the two want to kill each other, but at the same time hold sympathy and respect for one anther as a result of having similar family situations. Nevertheless, the two square off in great fights that include explosives, lead pipe bashing and ear biting that makes Mike Tyson look like a chump.
While "Collateral Damage" has its share of senseless action, the film brings a refreshing change to the typical Schwarzenegger action movie. Using realistic stunts and lacking in the one-liner department, "Collateral Damage" actually shows that there is a future for the 54 year old in action films. Much like what "The Fugitive" did for Harrison Ford, "Collateral Damage" does for Schwarzenegger. His character is someone that the audience holds sympathy for rather than just being an overpowering superhero. This results in the film being Schwarzenegger"s best film since 1994"s "True Lies."
Aside from Schwarzenegger"s performance, many of the other performances in "Collateral Damage" are forgettable. Of these, John Leguizamo and John Turturro are the most notable. With these actors being the most noteworthy outside of Schwarzenegger in the film, one would hope they would have well-developed characters. Instead, the two give poor performances, and each are on the screen for less than five minutes.
In the end, "Collateral Damage" is a film that action fans should enjoy. The film contains interesting plot twists, great action and, of course, Schwarzenegger.