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
remember a time, in the not too distant past, when any new movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was treated as an event. Nowadays, his films slip in and out of town with nary a person even noticing. What's happened? The sad but obvious explanation is that, as he's aged, Arnold has had to make way for younger, more dynamic action stars, leaving him stuck with leftover crumbs like `Collateral Damage,' a dull, lackluster action film that manages to kick itself into high gear only in its final half hour or so. `Collateral Damage' was, of course, one of those films whose original release date had to be postponed in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In this case, the sensitivity arose as a result of the film's storyline, which revolves around a group of Colombian terrorists determined to strike at targets on American soil. Schwarzenegger plays fireman Gordy Brewer, whose wife and child are killed in an explosion at the Colombian consulate in Los Angeles. Brewer, feeling that the U.S. government has little concern with exacting revenge from the terrorist leader responsible for the explosion, decides to mount a one-man crusade to see that justice is ultimately done. The film, obviously indifferent to its own need for plausibility, sends this virtually unarmed fireman into the unfamiliar jungles of South America to take on what appears to be the entire Colombian police force as well as the guerilla fighters whose actions resulted in the deaths of Brewer's family. Brewer, of course, despite his own inexperience and the formidable odds against him, manages to talk and/or fight his way out of every dire predicament before rescuing his nemesis' wife and their adopted son. There isn't much to say about `Collateral Damage' except to report that the film does achieve a certain tension in the closing stretches, when Brewer returns to Washington D.C. to help foil a plot to detonate a bomb in that city. Thanks to a few nice plot twists, the film ends up not being a total loss when all is finally said and done. It's never much fun to have to witness an actor in the sunset of his career. But if Schwarzenegger's films don't start improving soon, he may well have to switch to that career in politics he has reportedly been looking into between films.