There are good Arnie movies and there are bad Arnie movies.
The good ones tend to be movies where Schwarzenegger doesn't have to talk
much or try to exhibit the personality of a normal person.
In Collateral Damage, Arnie plays a fireman named Gordy. As
soon as I heard that name, I knew we were in for trouble.
Arnie can't play someone named Gordy. He's at his best when his characters
have names like T-800 (Terminator),
Conan (the Barbarian), Quaid
(Total Recall) or Dutch
(Predator). And he's not
too bad in a comedy (Twins,
But when he's playing a "real" person in a dramatic role, it can be painful.
Anyway, in Collateral Damage, Gordy is living a happy life with
his wife and child until....you guessed it...they become collateral damage.
They are killed by a bomb set by a Colombian rebel/terrorist/drug lord
nicknamed The Wolf. Gordy wants revenge and when the collective efforts
of the CIA (Elias Koteas) and the Pentagon can't seem to do anything, Gordy
decides to find The Wolf himself. His one advantage is that he knows
what The Wolf looks like. So, Gordy heads off to Columbia and with
the help of some low-lifes (John Turturro, John Leguizamo), he gets into
rebel territory, befriends The Wolf's wife and child and escapes with them
back to the US. Needless to say, this isn't the end of this totally
unbelievable plot. But I can't tell much more without giving
away the plot twist at the end (which I figured out). There
isn't much good to say about this movie. Besides the problems with
Arnie's character, none of the screenwriters has written a screenplay before
and it shows. The director, Andrew Davis, has made one very good film,
The Fugitive but other than
that, his oeuvre consists mainly of Chuck Norris (Code
of Silence) and Steven Seagal (Above
the Law, Under Siege)
movies. The supporting cast has several good people including Turturro
(O Brother, Where Art Thou?),
Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge)
and Koteas (Exotica) but
they are pretty much wasted except Koteas who at least gets to chew the
scenery as the stereotypical heartless, hyper-patriotic CIA operative.
Originally, Collateral Damage was set for release in the fall
but was delayed 4 months due to September 11. It was made before
made "collateral damage" into an everyday expression. I think
they should have left it on the shelf.