Today’s Prayer Focus

Collateral Damage

MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for violence and some language

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
15 to Adult
Action Adventure
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Collateral Damage” Francesca Neri and Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Collateral Damage”

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francesca Neri, John Leguizamo, John Turturro, Elias Koteas | Directed by: Andrew Davis | Produced by: Steven Reuther, David Foster, Peter McGregor Scott | Written by: Peter Griffiths, David Griffiths, Ronald Roose, Nicholas Meyer | Distributor: Warner Brothers

The images of September 11, 2001 will forever be in our memories. It is the day that the battle against terrorism made its move to American soil.

Every news source has made sure that we will never forget the unbelievable destruction. Americans quickly changed their priorities and many re-examined their values. Even Hollywood took a long look at its release schedule and shelved some of the fall projects. The most famous delay was the Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Collateral Damage”. Most people had already seen the trailer in the theaters or on television. The movie’s opening moments contained a violent scene of many innocent people dying as the result of a terrorist bomb. The question is—is America ready to watch violent terrorism on the big screen? I know that many people have said they would have felt more comfortable if this film had remained on the shelf. You know that is not going to happen. I will say right at the beginning… if the 9/11 tragedy still affects you deeply, then you should skip this film.

“Collateral Damage” is your typical formulaic vehicle for Mr. Schwarzenegger. There are few surprises in this action flic. Our hero, Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is intended to represent your average American firefighter. He has plans to meet his wife and son downtown. As Gordy arrives, he witnesses his family become victims of a terrorist bombing. Gordy saw this mysterious Columbian bomber and he begins to nurture feelings of vigilante style revenge. He begins to focus on El Lobo (Elias Koteas), the bomber, and plans to take him out.

Only problem for most people is that Mr. Brewer must travel to Columbia and infiltrate a guerrilla stronghold. But that’s no problem for our hero because the bullets only kill innocent bystanders and never Arnold. Gordy’s success includes help from El Lobo’s wife (Francesca Neri) and her son. She helps him to escape and they race back to American in order to foil the plot of another bombing.

Director, Andrew Davis (“The Fugitive”), does a decent job in the suspense department. The violence is primarily a lot of explosions. There are a few scenes that were somewhat gruesome. I personally found most of the violence less intense than “Roller Ball.” The profanity was your typical R-rated formula fare. There were 4 uses of the f-word, instead of the PG-13 standard of 3. There are a few plot twists along the way, but no real surprises. This isn’t the worst flic for the action hungry male in your house… there’s no sex or innuendo to speak of. Typical “Ahnold” fare. My 15-year-old son and I enjoyed most of the adventure, but don’t ignore the R-rating completely.

Viewer Comments
Negative—I believe that the movie was not very good at all. The movie was based around revenge. Everybody needs to take a vengence for what somebody else did to them. And when they do everything will turn out peachy. And I hated some of the fighting scenes. How they did some of it was unnecessary. I wouldn’t recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
-teen, age 17
Neutral—It makes some good political points about the CIA’s actions in other countries. There is a mean death-by-snake scene. And there is a somewhat interesting twist at the end. But all in all this action is a yawner and prompts the viewer to continually say, “Only in Hollywood.” Many of Schwarzenegger action heroes are regular-guy fathers thrown into heroism by some violence done to his family. And like the character in In the Bedroom, revenge is on his mind. But the villain is shown to be human too. (We know from Hollywood spirituality that most villains are bad because they were wounded in some way or have some “good cause.” And both bad and good guy have revenge in common. But the good guy is not going to become wholly evil by overextending retribution. Brewer plays it strictly by the eye for an eye book. He only wants to kill one person. That self-control is enough revenge to make him an All-American hero. If he kills a lot of people, he will become a villain. I love these little spiritual lines Hollywood always draws for us. The villain says many truths about America’s role of Intrusive Big Brother and America being responsible for countless deaths in other countries. (The same Anti-American rhetoric that Osama’s people and people of many other nations say.) But unlike the film, “We Were Soldiers” which shows the pain of humanity on both sides of a conflict—we don’t actually see an example of America’s CIA actually causing innocent deaths. However, true or false the baddie’s grief, it all just comes off as Hollywood plotting at best—and propaganda at worse—and nothing truly touching.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
-Carole McDonnell, age 42
Neutral—This was a high action movie but it had language and very strong violence. The violence was extremely graphic.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
-K.E., age teen
Movie Critics
…brutal killings… No sex scenes… a gratuitous scene shows rear nudity, mottled by shower glass…
-Preview Family Movie and TV Review