Thursday, April 05, 2007

Now Playing: Collateral Damage

One thing I like about Arnold Schwarzenegger movies is they're honest. You know what you're going to see right from the second it starts. Arnold is going to face a crisis, usually personal in nature, then is going to kill a ton of people before squaring off with the ultimate bad guy and killing him/her/them. Good wins out over evil. It's comfort food in a way. Sometimes you get a three course meal though in the likes of Predator or The Terminator where everything is pure cinematic perfection.

Other times you're left with an Almond Joy like Collateral Damage which is little more than a snack that leaves you hungry again 20 minutes after you finish it.

Arnold plays a firefighter named Gordie Brewer whose wife and little son are killed in a bomber's attack on the Columbian embassy in Los Angeles. He swears vengence, especially once the weak-kneed politicians in Washington decide to negotiate with the terrorists to find out what their "special needs" are. And what happens when weak-kneed politicians try to negotiate with terrorists in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, boys and girls?

Before you have time to try and examine how many plot holes are in the first 15 minutes alone, Gordie has shipped himself down to Columbia and makes a beeline straight for the bad guy's camp. Of course, he runs into problem after problem which fortunately can all be resolved with liberal use of explosives. Apparently Gordie was on the bomb squad prior to being a firefighter, which means he can blow stuff up with the best of them then put out the fire. He's practically a Renaissance Man in that way.

Director Andrew Davis does what he can to spice things up, including a wicked shot at the beginning of the bomber walking on the other side of a barrier from Gordie's son. But the film feels entirely pedantic and workmanlike. This was clearly a paycheck flick with zero passion felt for it and it shows. Heck, even the score is ripped off from a dozen sources.

I'm a sucker for lame action flicks but the only difference between this and one of these from the 1980's is the ending. There's a slight twist towards the end that any one who has ever seen a movie will peg about 45 minutes into the film. But if this were the 1980s the ending would be totally different. Or the exact same only then the producers would get to scream, "Look! We're being edgy!"

Uh, not so much this time, hombres. Maybe someday Arnold will return to us, but if he has his way then this and Terminator 3 might be the last we'll see of our beloved Austrian Oak on the big screen for years to come. Vaya con Dios, Austrian Oak, you will be missed.


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