Action Heroes – Schwarzenegger: Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage was originally released in 2002 and I went to my local cinema to see it simply because Arnie was back in action mode. Having somehow got through it I then travelled an hour by car to a midnight screening of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones which was actually worse than this. The night I’ve just recalled isn’t exactly my favorite memory of going to the cinema but it stayed with me given the awfulness of everything involved.

Released soon after the shocking events of 9/11 this turgid action thriller cashed in on the terrorist fever that was sweeping America. Arnold plays fireman Gordy Brewer whose family has been wiped out by a terrorist. Naturally he takes the decision to travel to Columbia to go eyeball-to-eyeball with the man responsible, known as The Wolf. A fireman who goes around kicking terrorist ass was too much for some people to ignore, but sadly for Arnie given the film’s total lack of quality the early flurry of box office success quickly tailed off.

The 1990s saw Arnie move away from his violent past and into more comedic roles. Box office hits such as Junior, Jingle All the Way and True Lies took him into a more family-friendly environment. Returning to more serious action towards the end of the decade he found himself in one financial dud after another. Collateral Damage made it three for three and was his last film but one before entering politics.

His portrayal of Gordy Brewer is marred by the fact that he looks far too old to be running around the jungle anymore. His hair looks ridiculous and even his patented moody stare has lost all the old menace from the Predator days. The opening sequence, when his family is killed, requires that Arnold break out his grief face as he views the bodies. Watching his face strain away through the Botox you simply assume we’ve returned to the comedy days of the early ‘90s as all you can do is laugh hysterically at the man.

The narrative is also a joke as the fireman goes commando and takes the fight to those cowardly terrorists. Given Schwarzenegger’s legendary macho right wing stance, you can imagine him loving this kind of drivel in the post-9/11 America of terror, fear and hysteria. Personally I find the film somewhat offensive in terms of its political message, but it’s just a terrible film all around so who really cares?

Arnold Schwarzenegger left the acting world after T3 in 2003 to become the Governor of California. That poor state is now on the verge of bankruptcy as Arnie considers a return to action in front of the camera. Action classics such as Terminator, Predator and Total Recall are a lifetime away from this pompous excuse for a film. Those involved should feel ashamed of wasting money and time on it.

Aled Jones

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