Collateral Damage
Review by Ross Anthony

Yes, this is one of those films released much later than planned due to the tragic events of September 11. And for good reason, (for starters) the picture opens with an act of terrorism on US soil.

Arnold plays LA firefighter Gordy Brewer, happy-go-lucky with his family of three. (It seems Collateral Damagewhenever filmmaker's show dad and kid taking a shower together laughing ... you know there's going to be a tragedy in the family). Within fifteen minutes of the curtains-up, the terrorists strike killing Brewer's wife and child. From that point on, Brewer's on a one-man mission of revenge.

That vendetta takes Brewer to Columbia: dodging guerrilla bullets in the jungles, involuntarily body surfing the river rapids, and enduring many inside jokes from a Colombian cocaine producer played humorously well by John Leguizamo. "Those Germans are built as strong as cyborgs."

Amidst the action, the script seems to be carrying Arnold (and the viewers) into the forbidden zone of sympathizing with terrorist motivations by presenting the "other side of the story." With many groups quick to engage in violence: Guerrillas, Colombian Police, US special military; it's a bit confusing to figure out who's helping out Arnold. Unfortunately, it's been a long time since we've been required to bring thinking caps to Arnold movies. Don't worry, all of that interesting gray area gets swept under the rug when one last twist emerges to make the villains crystal clear. (Or at least for the purposes of an action movie climax.)

A pivotal scene nutshells the point rather succinctly in one of the film's best dialogue moments.

Terrorist: It seems we're both willing to kill for a cause. So what's the difference between you and me then?

Arnold thinks for a short second then responds: The difference is ... I'm only going to kill YOU.

As for action ... the quantity is credible and the quality: middle of the road. Arnold appears rather obviously superimposed into his river rapid scene; however, the opening fire sequences (as well as a few others) play respectably.

Despite it's fair share of "implausibles" and an ending that takes a swift turn from the thrust of the movie, "Collateral Damage" is never boring, it carries you on Schwarzenegger's broad shoulders into the dangerously murky waters of international affairs, terrorist guerrilla camps, action and tragic loss.

  • Collateral Damage. Copyright © 2002. Rated R.
  • Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis, John Leguizamo, John Turturro. Directed by Andrew Davis.
  • Screenplay by David Griffiths and Peter Griffiths.
  • Produced by Steven Reuther and David Foster at Bel-Air/Warner Brothrers.


Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:16:52 PDT