Collateral Damage (2002)
Schwarzenegger Suffers Collateral Damage
Don't even look at those guys unless you can kill 'em - Sean Armstrong
"Collateral Damage" has the potential to be a semi-decent action thriller, which sees a fire-chief basically going commando to track down the terrorists who were responsible for the death of his wife and child. It has a darkness about it and plenty of drama as we have various agencies involved and it throws up one or two nice twists. But it has one major issue and it's an issue that makes "Collateral Damage" barely average and that is that it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now I am not knocking Arnie, I loved his action flicks of the 80s, but "Collateral Damage" is not purely an action flick and calls upon Arnie to try and deliver more, deliver emotion and drama and to be honest the big man just can't convey it. And it's not just Arnie's limited acting which is the issue because when you see Arnie in a movie you expect a bit of cheesiness, corny dialogues, that smirk but because there is none of that in "Collateral Damage" it just feels very wrong and very miscast.
Fire Chief Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger - The 6th Day) finds himself in the midst of the world of terrorism when his wife and son end up "Collateral Damage" when Columbian terrorist Claudio "The Wolf" Perrini (Cliff Curtis - Die Hard 4.0) blows up a building they are in. Racked with grief and annoyed by the lack of progress by the officials, Gordy goes commando and heads to Columbia to track down the man responsible for his wife and son's death. But his presence in Columbia doesn't go unnoticed and finds himself the focus of various groups who try to stop him from reaching Perrini.
Maybe it's because I wasn't really expecting a proper storyline seeing that "Collateral Damage" is an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie but something about the story ends up feeling wrong and messy. It starts of reasonably enough as we meet Gordy Brewer, hero Fire Chief and his wife and kid and right up until the terrorist explosion which sees them being killed it's all quite plain sailing. But then something goes wrong as we have different groups introduced, we have the FBI, some sort of political team and then the actual Columbian terrorists and you are left a little confused as to who is who.
It gets no better when Gordy sneaks his way into Columbia in an attempt to get to the terrorists because another group is introduced and you are left during a scene in a market wondering who exactly the good guys and bad guys are. I am sure that director Andrew Davis wanted to make things a little bit confusing so that you had to pay attention but it all seems to go too far and becomes messy because when you do work out who is working for who it is in fact very simple.
Aside from the messy storyline which at times lost my attention well whilst technically thriller "Collateral Damage" ends up becoming an action movie with Arnie as Gordy battling various bad guys, escaping from their clutches and managing to work out where the terrorists plan to strike before the FBI. Now there is a cleverness to some of this especially the clue which leads to Gordy suspecting where the bomber plans to attack. But at the same time it all becomes very familiar with Arnie at the centre of one action sequence after another which steadily grow towards the absurd. Now if "Collateral Damage" had just been a dumb old action flick with Arnie wise cracking through various explosions it may have worked but because the movie has a more dramatic feel and Arnie trying to act rather than get through on charisma alone it feels wrong. Having said that there are some spectacular moments of action even if they are over the top and unbelievable.
And so on to Arnie trying to act, well first up there are moments where the big man does achieve some sort of character especially in those moments following the death of his wife and child. The look of shock on Gordy's face actually takes you back and you start to wonder whether Arnie will pull off a decent performance. But sadly he isn't able to and so at times looks uncomfortable in the more dialogue heavy dramatic scenes. And of course as the movie transcends towards purely action that lack of cheesy dialogue and those little smiles makes it feel a little weird.
Matters aren't helped by the fact that Arnie's character Gordy is central to everything and so everyone else from Cliff Curtis as terrorist Claudio Perrini through to Francesca Neri as Selena Perrini feel like back ground noise. And it is a shame as "Collateral Damage" has some well known faces cropping up for a few scenes here and there such as John Leguizamo, Elias Koteas and John Turturro, there is even a role for a young Tyler Posey as Mauro.
What this all boils down to is that "Collateral Damage" has one major problem and that is Arnold Schwarzenegger was wrongly cast. Arnie just can't carry of the dramatic part of the storyline, but because he has restrained his natural charisma and playing things seriously it feels just as wrong when the story becomes all about the action. All of which is a shame as with the right person "Collateral Damage" could have been a decent action thriller instead of the ordinary and messy one it ended up.
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