Collateral Damage

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By Mark Ramsey | 2002/02/08

The Lord of the Abs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, returns to the big screen in Collateral Damage. It’s the cinematic answer to the question: Can a guy who can’t pronounce “terrorist” star in a movie about one?

That terrorist is named “El Lobo,” which is Spanish for “the sucker who doesn’t stand a chance against those bulging biceps of Austrian fury.” Also along for the ride are John Leguizamo as “El Loco,” John Turturro as “El Hobo,” and Elias Koteas as “El Mofo.”

collateraldamage_hopkins.jpgHere’s the deal: Schwarzenegger’s wife and son are killed in a bombing because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time – although, come to think of it, there’s no right time to be in the wrong place.

A grieving, vengeful Arnold limps out of the hospital and travels far into Colombia to confront the terrorist. In fact, his travels take him beyond far and well into far-fetched.

There Arnold inexplicably befriends the terrorist’s son and wife, who seems to have tapped into Colombia’s rich lip collagen depository. You can almost see the collagen slosh around when she shakes her head. She’s a swan with a duck bill.

In Colombia, every street vendor seems to have a photocopy of Arnold’s passport – they keep it in their wallets next to a well-thumbed copy of “Human Kidney Extraction for Fun and Profit.”

As usual, Arnold kicks butt and takes names – even if he never pronounces those names the same way twice.

Collateral Damage has some of the worst CGI I’ve seen lately. There’s a scene where Arnold is tumbling down a waterfall and it looks like he’s a toy soldier under a faucet.

Who is this terrorist, anyway? In his “U.S. Out of Colombia” videos, the hooded baddie does this weird hand-slapping thing that turns out to be key to the story later. A hand-slap? What kind of weak plot device is this!? Somebody slap the writers upside their heads. Note to self: Never use the Etch-a-Sketch as a word processor.

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Who doesn’t love Arnold? Here’s a guy who gets paid for pretending to be what most guys pretend to be for free. But what is he doing in this lame riff on current events? Let’s face it, compared to reality, Collateral Damage is a dramatic hiccup – an elaborately buff cartoon.

Schwarzenegger is trying to get to the terrorist before the CIA guy, who attacks Arnold with dialogue gems like “Would you stick a sock in it, Jolly Green?!” Hey, sit on it and rotate, toilet-face!

At least this movie improves toward then end, when the improbabilities mount to Everest-like proportions.

El Lobo uses a cell phone to trigger his bombs. How?! My cell phone can’t even trigger an uninterrupted call! In fact, my coverage map indicates there are numerous areas I still can’t blow up using my phone. Fortunately more neighborhoods will be at risk in 2003, and I can’t wait.

As for another great Arnold movie, I can’t wait for that either.


Photos Copyright ©2002 Warner Brothers

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