It’s Movie Time: Collateral Damage

As always, Spoiler Alert

I cut my teeth on ’80s action movies, and in my humble opinion, no one did them better than Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m some glad he never stopped making them, not even after the decade was long over. Because Collateral Damage is from 2002, but it’s still got a serious ’80s vibe to it.

I’d never seen Collateral Damage before. (On a side note, I’m only at the Cs in my pursuit to watch the movies in my collection in alphabetical order, and I’ve been surprised by just how many I’ve never seen before – especially films like this one, that are right up my alley.) But like a lot of Schwarzenegger movies, I kinda sorta have.

In it, Schwarzenegger plays firefighter Gordy Brewer, a man whose wife and child are killed in a terrorist attack, and he goes on a quest for revenge. While it’s pretty standard stuff for the genre, the fact that Brewer isn’t either military, ex-military, or some sort of super spy is at least a bit outside of the Schwarzenegger norm and does have an impact on how the story plays out. It’s not quite as testosterone-laden as the standard action film, primarily because the main character occupies a life-saving role as opposed to a life-ending one, but also because Brewer doesn’t have access to the kind of weaponry most Schwarzenegger characters normally do. (In fact, now that I think of it, Brewer never once uses a gun in the entire movie. But he does plant a bomb.)

Honestly, that works against it. A Schwarzenegger movie this formulaic needs guns and terrible puns in equal measure or else it’s mostly pointless. Instead we get an occasional punch thrown, truly awful CGI, heavy-handed moralizing, and a (massively telegraphed) plot ‘twist’ that does nothing to save the film.

Did I mention that I fucking loved it?

Collateral Damage makes my So Bad It’s Good list without even breaking a sweat. Pointing out plot holes to Ron while he anticipated entire lines of dialogue word-perfect because of course that’s what this particular character stereotype would say was an exercise in hilarity. So was shouting at the screen when those same characters didn’t see the painfully obvious ending plot twist staring them in the face.

And that’s why I think Schwarzenegger’s ’80s action movies were the best of the genre. They never took themselves too seriously, so even when they missed the mark and were pretty awful, there was still real entertainment to be had.

Not the entertainment they intended, perhaps. But entertainment nonetheless.

To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.

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