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Collateral Damage

By Eric Allen Hatch | Posted

Instead of postponing this Real Heroes vs. the Terrorists flick until America recovered from Sept. 11's devastation, Hollywood should have struck while the iron was hot. Inured by months of the War Against Terrorism, audiences will see Collateral Damage for what it is: Commando with fewer guns. Arriving late for a date with his wife and son, Los Angeles firefighter Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) witnesses them die in an explosion credited to Colombian terrorist Claudio "The Wolf" Perrini (Cliff Curtis). When red tape slows the wheels of justice, Brewer wages a one-man war against guerrillas and drug lords. Surprisingly, Collateral Damage explicitly questions CIA involvement in Latin America before delineating its crass bottom line: No country's laws may impede a middle-aged American male's quest for justice on his own terms. Screening the original and current cuts of this film back-to-back might illuminate what Hollywood thinks America wants right now; the first cut's explosion was likely bloodier, and the American flag on Arnold's coffee mug was probably added later. Sociopolitical ramifications aside, this film's marginal competence places it a rung above Schwarzenegger's execrable End of Days, but an entire ladder beneath director Andrew Davis' The Fugitive.

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