Review: “Collateral Damage”

It’s somewhat sad to see many of the old great 80’s action heroes vanish into oblivion. Seagal, Van Damme, Stallone, etc. who gave us some great pieces of pure entertainment in the 80’s and early 90’s have quickly become obsolete.

Bruce Willis now remains the sole actor of this genre whose branching out into more serious dramatic fare has kept his career and credibility intact, the others though simply don’t have that range of talent and combine that with simply bad choices for projects. They’re still trying their darndest, especially Arnie but can films like “The 6th Day” or “End of Days” really compare wth the briliant fun and thrills of “Total Recall” and “Predator”?

No. Sadly “Collateral Damage” is arguably one of Arnie’s weakest films yet, certainly the least interesting thing he’s done since the woeful “Junior”. There’s been all sorts of talk about how reaction to this has been affected by the events of September 11th, but this was completed long before then and should be treated objectively for what it is – another dumb action terrorist film with no real insight on the subject matter.

Granted Arnie seems to be going back slightly more to his roots with this effort than his more recent FX-reliant fare. The topic is approached very seriously and whilst the action sequences do get quite ridiculous at times (incl. one hell of a waterfall push-off to the inevitable run from a fireball ending), there’s no one-liner quips or truly ‘out there’ elements to the story which makes the silly moments stand out just that much more.

Like “End of Days”, here’s another character driven by the pain and loss of his wife and child in one reasonably effective suspense/action sequence early on. Yet, the plot holes in both the script and as a result of choppy editing make him a character who at first you feel for – until he then becomes a “James Bond with stamina” style one-man army capable of infiltrating dangerous armed compounds with ease and blowing up bad guys left and right.

The supporting characters are just as ineptly conceived from the beautiful Francesca Neri who truly looks like she doesn’t belong here, to almost comical cameos by the likes of Leguizamo and Turturro. The less said about the way in which the terrorists are handled the better as these guys are portrayed as stereotypes minus the intelligence.

Only Elias Koteas, whose fare of late has been pretty dire, manages to salvage some sort of a performance as a CIA agent. Had this aimed to be a more serious drama, or swapped to a more effective story to incorporate around the action it would’ve been a far more enjoyable effort. As it stands though, its another reason why Arnie really needs to rethink his career.