Originally postponed for its sensitive content in the wake of Sept. 11, "Collateral Damage" serves up a mediocre plot that should have been canned all together.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this disappointing film as devoted fireman and father Gordon Brewer, whose wife and son are killed in a terrorist bombing. Learning the mysterious character smiling at him just minutes before the explosion was the Colombian nationalist responsible, Brewer immediately wants revenge.
Frustrated with the CIA and terrified his wife and son's killer, "The Wolf," might not be brought to justice, Brewer etches out a risky plan to sneak into Colombia and kill him.
Through several death-defying stunts, Schwarzenegger personifies the strength of human spirit in adversity to rear against injustice. But audiences are unlikely to identify with Brewer as he block-chops his way to the movie's end. Muscle-bound and stony with rage, this fireman seems to fight too much and feel too little.
Lacking depth, the film's supporting characters are no better. CIA agent Peter Brandt (Elias Koteas) is the token know-it-all, continually asserting his manhood with the same four-letter words. With obligatory one-liners, not even comedian John Leguizamo can pull the movie out of its uneventful slump.
A surprising plot twist toward the film's end seems to be director Andrew Davis' last-ditch effort to reward audience members for not walking out. Unfortunately, it's a little too late to compensate for the predictability of the film as a whole.
Perhaps "Collateral Damage" could have scraped by if it had been released at a time before Americans had experienced the realities of Sept. 11.
But five months later, the film deprives its audience of the depth of feeling they have witnessed firsthand in the wake of a terrorist attack. Audiences are left with the portrayal of a two-dimensional hero and a story line that is emotionally distant on a subject that is too close to home.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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