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By Herb Kane | February 17, 2002

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Maitland McDonagh (TV Guide), Mark Savlov (Austin Chronicle), Jeanne Aufmath (Palo Alto Weekly), Ed Johnson-Ott (, Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune), Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times), Michæl Dequina (, Desson Howe (Washington Post), Elvis Mitchell (New York Times) ^ * * 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Collateral Damage is finally in theaters! Warner Bros. decided to postpone the film’s release date due to the story’s similarity to September 11th. Should the film have been released at all?
Collateral Damage is about Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a heroic firefighter whom one day loses his wife and son in a terrorist bomb attack. Claudio (Cliff Curtis), a Colombia terrorist (also known as “The Wolf”) claims responsibility. A fire of revenge ignites Brewer and he flies to Colombia to seek out and destroy Claudio. Though we see a lot of explosions and gross fighting/killing scenes, the movie itself almost bombs.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) called this movie “a skillfully made example of your typical Schwarzenegger action film.”
Skillful, Roger? If this movie is typical of Arnold Schwarzenegger, then “Terminator,” “True Lies,” and “Kindergarten Cop” must have sucked! Those movies are smart entertainment. Arnold must have dropped one of his dumbbells on Ebert’s head, because there was nothing clever about this film.
Maitland McDonagh (TV Guide) got it right: “Utterly predictable, noisy and stupid.” Mark Savlov (Austin Chronicle) also concluded, “This messy and simple-minded film is just plain dumb.”
Listen. I like Arnold, but the fact is this man “requires” a good supporting cast, a good screenplay and good direction. Otherwise, his performance doesn’t work It’s like the whole cast and crew in this movie set off a big DUMB BOMB and Arnold Schwarzenegger ended up collateral damage!
Jeanne Aufmath (Palo Alto Weekly) said, “I’m sorry to say that this should seal the deal – Arnold is not, nor will he be, back.”
Arnold may be going nowhere in this movie, Jeanne, but trust me. He will not only come back, but bounce back in his new “Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machine” and “True Lies 2.” If he fails in both films, then we’ll talk. Until then, “Hasta la vista, baby.”
I was initially mad at Warner Brother’s for not releasing the film. I was simply eager to watch Arnold take out his revenge on a terrorist – as a form of therapy, if you will. I now believe Warner made the right decision. Every review I read mentioned September 11 and appropriately so. Here’s a small sampling: ^ – “I tried to view ‘Collateral Damage’ simply as escapist entertainment, but failed. Those horrific images from September 11 simply remain too clear.” Ed Johnson-Ott (
– “You still can’t help but wince at a reference to ‘the first terrorist attack on our nation’s capital’ as well as a terrorist’s televised threat to the American public: ‘We will bring the war home to you, and you will not feel safe in your own beds.’ Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune)
– “Seeing it now underscores the inevitability of that decision. Even today, watching a bomb go off among unprepared civilians in what looks like Century City is more disconcerting than it would otherwise have been.” Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)
– “Given how it uses a stateside terrorist attack as its plot hook, the long, dark shadow of real life cannot help but loom over the film.” Michæl Dequina (Dequina’s Collateral Damage review on
– “But now the emotional debris has somewhat settled, we can see the movie for what it is: a fair-to-middling action flick that never deserved association with anything momentous in the first place.” Desson Howe (Washington Post)
– “‘Damage’ was withdrawn from an intended fall 2001 release after the events of Sept. 11, though it feels like a film that’s been kept on the shelf since 1989.” Elvis Mitchell (New York Times)
Desson Howe (Washington Post) summed the film up best: “The only thing that keeps you awake is the delicious possibility of Schwarzenegger delivering something by movie’s end, whether it’s a quotable drop-dead line, a killer look in the eyes, or something comical.”
Arnold better bounce back, because the only collateral damage I saw in this two-star film was the people leaving the theater. ^ -CRITIC DOCTOR
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