Cast & Crew
CIA Agent Brandt
Claudio 'The Wolf'
Produced by Lowell Blank, Mitchell Dauterive, David
Foster, Howard W. Koch Jr., Peter MacGregor-Scott, Nicholas
Meyer, Steven Reuther and Teresa Tucker-Davies, Directed
by Andrew Davis; Screenwritten by David Griffiths,
Peter Griffiths and Ronald Roose
Action (US); Rated R for strong violent activity;
Running Time -115 Minutes
Domestic Release Date
February 14, 2002
by DAVID KEYES
subject of terrorism has been an immensely demanding subject
on our minds ever since two commercial flights crashed into
the World Trade Center last September, tearing an open wound
into the foundation of the American dream and pulling the
nation in to a widespread fire that has plagued this Earth
for hundreds of years. In the time since that tragedy, many
of us have tried hard to understand the warped logic behind
those associated with such heinous attacks: what motivates
them, what are their long-term goals, and most importantly,
what do they gain from acting out so violently. Of course,
the answers are nowhere near simple, and though the government
has set itself the goal of crumbling the intricate terrorist
networks in the Middle East, chances are these kinds of
catastrophic attacks on humanity will go on long after most
of us are gone.
reasoning like this doesn't exactly apply to the movies,
but at this point, perhaps it should. Consider the new Arnold
Schwarzenegger flick "Collateral Damage," a film
about terrorists who fuel a man's need for revenge when
they mercilessly kill his own family right before his unsuspecting
eyes. The movie is in a realm somewhere between typical
action-adventure movie lore and plain old absurdity, operating
on rules that aren't just implausible in reality, but totally
unconvincing and self-serving even for escapist entertainment.
To top it all off, the movie actually expects its audience
to cave in to the idea that one man (yes, only one) can
single-handedly disarm a whole terrorism movement, and that
a country like the United States could so easily consider
surrendering under the pressure of a villain who freely
moves inside the country using commercial transportation
(and without being noticed). Who in their right mind could
actually believe stuff like this, even if September 11 had
plays an L.A. firefighter named Gordon Brewer, a man whose
life is altered beyond repair when his wife and son become
casualties of a bomb explosion in front of his own eyes.
Later, following the obligatory grieving period, Gordon
learns that a man he saw on that fateful day is actually
a Colombian terrorist known as "The Wolf," who
was initially responsible for the attack and, ultimately,
the deaths of his son and wife. However, despite the governments
assurances that the villain is as good as captured, locating
his whereabouts and apprehending him is a lot more difficult
than anyone imagines. It is with this situation that Gordon
decides to seek out the Colombian terrorist himself, using
extremely rough plans to concoct a strategy, and always
keeping on guard of suspected accomplists, who litter the
movie like crumbling boulders.
or take a few extra details and players, and you have the
essence of "Collateral Damage," a would-be story
of heroism that suspends genuine nobility for halfhearted
revenge and logical details for transparent manipulations.
That's an even sadder fate, indeed, for a movie that was
pushed four months back from schedule because of its "similarities"
with the September 11 tragedies. Why? Because the decision
to put the movie on the back burner was so wisely calculated,
it suggested the filmmakers actually knew what they were
doing, ultimately suggesting to the audience that the product
in question at least had some sort of authenticity when
it came to the subject of terrorism.
that belief is immediately squandered as a result of seeing
this ho-hum endeavor. The movie has little knowledge of
its complex subject matter, resorting to clichés,
formulas, and molds of standard Hollywood blockbusters more
often than necessary, and ignoring the potential of thought-provoking
storytelling in favor of standard action fluff. Yet even
the movie's major action scenes, which normally sell the
standard Schwarzenegger blockbusters, are drythey
kind of meander around on screen as if they're being filmed
by a confused cinematographer, who doesn't see the point
of all the big explosions on drawn-out fight sequences,
especially when we already saw them done correctly in "True
Lies." The acting, likewise, comes off as stale and
forced, with Schwarzenegger himself appearing bored with
the material, and respectable actors like Elias Koteas and
John Leguizamo being wasted by characterizations that have
the depth of pocket change.
course, I could go on about everything that is wrong with
"Collateral Damage" for a good few hours, but
that would mean I was ignoring its minor merits. Despite
all of the problems here, "Collateral Damage"
isn't actually a horrendous movie. At most, it's at least
watchable, especially during the first hour when director
Andrew Davis creates a firm pace that overlies a bit of
brewing tension. In fact, for the first 20 minutes, we can
actually see that what Gordon is experiencing is very traumatic.
We really can.
even those merits aren't enough to salvage a respectable
product out of this mess. "Collateral Damage"
may be masquerading under the umbrella of reasoning that
it knows everything necessary about terrorism, but don't
be fooled. This is a paint-by-number, shallow and dimwitted
studio blockbuster, with little objective other than to
tire us out with ludicrous plot devices, stale structure
and a bland payoff.
2002, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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