Firefighter Gordon Brewer is plunged into the complex and dangerous world of international terrorism after he loses his wife and child in a bombing credited to Claudio "The Wolf" Perrini. Frustrated with the official investigation and haunted by the thought that the man responsible for murdering his family might never be brought to justice, Brewer takes matters into his own hands and tracks his quarry ultimately to Colombia. Written by
I chose to rent this movie for a simple reason: I was in the mood for something nice and stupid - a no-brainer action flick starring Arnie would perfectly fit that mood. What I got was something else.
The story: Firefighter loses family in terrorist attack, goes on revenge mission to Columbia to find and kill terrorist. Sounds pretty dumb to me - and, let's face it, a lot of aspects of the movie are incredibly dumb. (Mostly those parts of the movie concerned with Arnie getting to Columbia, travelling through Columbia and getting into the rebel camp)
But, and here's the catch, some are not. What starts out a simple movie with linear plot evolves slowly. After the rage comes a period of reflection. There are twists and turns in the plot, and the first half is full of time-filling minutes spent getting to know yet-another-comedic sidekick, who will disappear entirely from the movie within minutes (couldn't they have stuck with one sidekick? Or not bothered at all?), but then, as the plot turns around, the audience is suddenly faced with an interesting moment (which is later ruined by cheesy dialogue). Well, this being an action movie, the smart bits can last only so long, and then it all goes to pieces in a desperate attempt to have a traditional climactic good vs bad battle. So the end is a big let-down.
Still, the movie IS entertaining (apart from a few minutes of boredom and confusion in the Columbia part) and, surprisingly, well-acted. Arnie is no character actor, and the mess he made of End of Days was embarrassing. Sixth Day brought some more flexing of acting muscles, and I actually liked his performance in that movie. Collateral Damage takes all he learnt and puts it to the test. He will never manage a Bruce-Willis alike 6th Sense / Unbreakable career turnaround, but he acted his role well, and was convincing. Mostly, at least. The support cast, filled with aforementioned comedic sidekicks, a CIA agent, a FBI agent and the terrorist and a Columbian woman - all do their jobs well. I kept wondering where I'd seen Cliff Curtis before, until I looked it up on IMDB - he was the charismatic leader of the Iraqi resistance in Three Kings. Here, he manages to dominate the screen just as well and once again is a show-stealer. Definitely the most memorable character of the movie.
So, we have good acting, good entertainment, stupid action, a stupid end and some reasonably intelligent bit somewhere along the way. The body count is high, but surprisingly, Arnold does not actually kill many people (you can count his victims on the fingers of one hand). There is a gruesome scene involving a snake, which is basically pointless, but that did not reduce my enjoyment of the movie. All in all, a good movie to watch. Not brilliant, but not as bad as some people may think either.
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