Collateral Damage (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|Your basic perfectly logical plot. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Brewer, a Los Angeles firefighter who sees his wife and son killed by a terrorist bomb. The weaklings in the United States government back off when told that Columbia is negotiating with the terrorists, so Arnie has to take matters into his own hands. He is dropped alone, on foot, unarmed, into the Columbian jungle, where he proceeds to defeat both the entire drug cartel and Mother Nature, despite the fact that every single person in Columbia knows who he is and has a picture of him in their wallet. Of course, this is simple stuff for him after having defeated Satan two films ago.|
|Then he comes back to Washington and, like Davy Crockett or Mr Smith, he explains anti-terrorism in simple ways to them city-folks, and while spinnin' a few yarns, he defeats all the remaining terrorists, saves some cabinet officials, adopts some orphans, and shows that the physical laws of the universe are not as immutable as they might seem to us lesser mortals. At various times in the film he outruns a motorcycle and a fireball, and survives a fall down the highest waterfall I've ever seen. And I've been to Victoria Falls. Of course Arnie uses Victoria Falls as a personal water park.||
|It isn't only natural law that's in for a
good bitch-slappin' in this film, but logic as well. For example, when
Arnie is held captive in Columbia, the renegade CIA chief engineers a
rescue in which he raids the guerrilla camp from the air with enough
firepower to blow up Belgium, even though he doesn't know exactly where
Arnie is within the compound. Say what? How did they know they weren't
killing Arn with their bombs? I guess they read the script and saw that
he got away. Later on in the film there is a perfectly timed rendezvous
between the two main terrorists, despite the fact that everything in
their plot has gone wrong, and one of them had to keep running from
Arnie in random directions. Their improbably timed convergence was like
a scene out of Hudson Hawk.
I really wouldn't mind all that if it were handled in the old Arnold mold, in which Arnie battled against aliens or Evil Masters of the Universe, or himself. In a proper Arnold film, the big guy always slugs it out against impossible odds, and jokes his way through the whole thing. And I like those movies. But in this case, he's not fighting a fantasy invisible monster or some people who have reprogrammed his brain. He's battling against a very real terror, one that takes the lives of innocent people who are sometimes our own neighbors. Because the evil is real, we don't feel comfortable seeing it trivialized. If only terrorism were really this easy to defeat. Just drop Arnie in Pakistan and let him kick ass.
Just as important, the nature of the threat doesn't allow Arnold to do any jokes. The terrorist-inspired deaths of our wives and children are really not the right context for more of Arnie's famous one liners.
By the way, did you know that although all the other
little kids in Austria wanted to play Mozart in the annual famous
composers pageant, Arnie always said, "I'll be Bach"?
I guess you may know that this film was originally scheduled to be released right around the time of the WTC attacks, and it was delayed for many months because the studio felt that the time was inappropriate for the release of a fantasy-action version of anti-terrorist revenge. If this was a modestly budgeted film, I really believe that it would have languished in the studio's vaults forever, but they spent $80 million on this film, and they had to release it eventually, in order to recoup as much as possible.
That was a shame, in more ways than I care to contemplate.
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