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Collateral Damage

WELL he said he'd be back didn't he? Collateral Damage is a slick, well made piece of popcorn fodder which will delight the senses without taxing the brain.

images from the film Collateral Damage_140 (copy)

WELL he said he'd be back didn't he? Collateral Damage is a slick, well made piece of popcorn fodder which will delight the senses without taxing the brain.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays heroic LA firefighter, Gordy Brewer. By day he saves helpless children and grannies from horrific fiery death and by night he returns to the loving embrace of his adored wife (Lindsay Frost) and son (Ethan Dampf).

That is, until a group of fanatical Columbian terrorists led by El Lobo - 'The Wolf' - (Cliff Curtis) decide to up the anti in their attacks against the USA and detonate a bomb in busy downtown LA.

It is aimed at killing a group of high ranking Colombian and American officials, but El Lobo isn't particular who gets in the way and blows up a busy skyscraper, Killing Brewer's family before his horrified gaze.

Convinced that the terrorist is not going to be caught and punished, the traumatised Brewer decides to turn vigilante and heads off for Columbia to extract some biblical justice of his own.

Collateral Damage harks back to the Die Hard era when the action hero reigned supreme and the world was seen in clear shades of black and white.

Director Andrew Davis (Chain Reaction, The Fugitive) delivers a frantic feast of action adventure from the James Bond school of gravity defying stunts which break the laws of physics, sadistic villains and improbable set pieces.

Arnie cuts a destructive swathe across some of the more hostile parts of South America in search of his quarry, only to discover that vengeance is not necessarily a dish best served cold.

The whole proceedings are cheerfully illogical, OTT and yet defiantly enjoyable as long as your brain will stop asking pesky questions. Just how do you expect a Caucasian monolith with an Austrian accent to blend in anywhere in Columbia? Why with his trusty Panama hat of course.

The action is fast, well paced and has all the elements you would expect from a film of this genre: a stoical - seemingly superhuman - hero, a righteous quest for retribution, dastardly villains, a beautiful damsel in distress, indifferent law officials and spectacular, totally unbelievable fight sequences in which the hero doesn't break so much as a fingernail.

Don't expect any political grandstanding or deep social comment, this is simply Boys Own adventure.

The cast are pretty much functional, and are not really well written enough to be anything else really.

Schwarzenegger does what his die hard fans love him to do - be the action hero - quite well, and in earlier scenes he acts the role of the grieving husband/father convincingly.

Elias Koteas is suitably ambiguous as a shady secret service agent, and Francesca Neri is unnervingly beautiful for a woman supposedly so far away from a grooming salon.

There are also a couple of nifty cameo's from John Turturro as a Canadian fix-it man, and John Leguizamo as a peppy musician cum drug farm manager.

Collateral Damage has - perhaps unfairly - come in for some scathing criticism on the other side of the Atlantic. Had it been released eight months ago it would have been dismissed as just another piece of action hokum.

But that was before September 11.

The awful events of that day are - understandably - still too raw, too painful for many, and a film in which a firefighter's family are the victims of a terrorist attack on a skyscraper in a major American city is a little too eerily close to the bone for comfort - despite the fact that the film was made well in advance of the attack on the Twin Towers.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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