Collateral Damage:

Collateral Damage (2002) Director: Andrew Davis Studio: Warner Brothers Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Leguizamo, John Turturro Rating: PG-13

There are no realities, only perceptions. The validation of that which is real is predicated upon that which is extensively perceived. Filmmakers have manipulated the dichotomy between perception and reality for many years. Federico Fellini of course immediately comes to mind. One individual who does not come to mind is Andrew Davis, director of Collateral Damage.

Warner Brothers pushed back the September 2001 release of Collateral Damage until February 2002 in the aftermath of September 11th. Those terrorist activities created national and global depictions far beyond anything one individual could imagine. The events also shattered any lateral creativity a US audience had with its sensitivity of a terrorist attack in America by painting an all too vivid perception.

Los Angeles fireman Gordon Brewer’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wife and son are brutally murdered in an act of Columbian terrorism on American spoil. Brewer then sets out to avenge their deaths by traveling to South America to bring the main culprit, Lobo, to justice. Overlooking a few small issues (i.e. Schwarzenegger in full tourist fashion can simply traverse through the depths of South America virtually unnoticed) the film proves to be in par with his most recent work, Final Days.

The true disappointment with Collateral Damage manifests in the film’s inability to connect with the audience post 9/11. The American perception about nearly every aspect of film changed. The notion of civil servants changed. The possibility of a macro terrorist act on American spoil was altered. Yet, Collateral Damage fails to investigate how these aspects of the American and global psyche have changed and therefore fails to connect with the audience on any level other than action orientation.