ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  andrew davis

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  108 minutes

RELEASED  -  2 may 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  collateral damage

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $85,000,000
collateral damage - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from collateral damage at

buy the dvd from collateral damage at

after his family is killed by a terrorist act, a firefighter goes in search of the one responsible.

this film's release date was moved back over five months because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


picture from collateral damage

picture from collateral damage

picture from collateral damage


two out of four possible stars

Over the past few decades, the "action" genre has been re-invented by various big budget films. In the eighties, Die Hard was one of these films. And in the nineties, movies like The Matrix tried to change the way action movies are made. Collateral Damage doesn't try anything new. It's an action film that resembles the lowest common denominator of filmmaking. It's a simple story with a mild twist of an outcome that's really too obvious to be a surprise. This film serves best the fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The time spent on blowing stuff up, fist fights, and jungle chases assures the viewer that this film doesn't take a whole lot of time to concern itself with story or even much plot. And the story, as simple as it is, doesn't have the oomph to allow this film to be something unique, such as Arnold's great performance in True Lies. perhaps it just takes the magic of James Cameron to bring out the best in Schwarzenegger. Because really, his best three films, T1, T2, and True Lies were all Cameron projects. With Damage, Arnold plays little more than a man bent on revenge. He isn't an intelligent character and though his "want" in the film, his desire for revenge, is a worthy one for the film, the film involves little else in its 115 minute running time.

Though, on a side note, the fact that this movie doesn't run for two and a half hours, like so many recent action films, is a vote in its favor. Though people in the audience wanting a more involved film might be bored by the end, as action films go, this one ends right about where it should. Of course, it could have behooved the filmmakers to create a more intelligent character and script for this movie, because with just the minor success in the editing of this picture, the film doesn't have a lot of positives.

The fact that this film stands out as just another action film with a large budget, big stars, and not much interest attached to the plot is further evidence that the problems with this film begin with the screenplay. Though it might have started out as a screenplay with a decent amount of genius attached to it, perhaps it was the fault of the director or producers for having "dumbed it down" a bit. Whose ever fault it was, the end result is really more a display of the muscles in Arnold's arms than the brain in his character's head.

The very basic theme of this film: revenge, is something, which has driven many films to large box office earnings and sometimes even critical awards. Just look at Braveheart and Gladiator. These two films each won best picture Oscars and their whole reason for being was for the main character to exact his revenge on somebody. So it's proven that this tactic can work. In fact, this type of story-telling is one of the most used themes in all of filmmaking. It's something which the screenwriter, director, and actors can all fall back on when creating a motivation or path for the main character to follow.

It doesn't matter what the character does, as long as he (or she!) is on the path for revenge. Of course, there are a few other elements that are nice to include with that sentiment. Good dialogue, for one. Or a good delivery of decent dialogue (even a bad script can become decent with the right actors) can make a film interesting to watch. But the script to this film doesn't handle it's main focus with much intelligence. It's as if the revenge tactic is the only thing holding this movie together. And Arnold's pecks just can't keep it from falling apart. Too many plot holes, not enough ingenuity, and a tired genre combine to create a action film whose only draw is its explosions - for the fans of action films.

Ultimately, this film's only draw is in its star power. That Arnold's face is on the poster will guarantee a certain number of people will see this film, regardless of its merits. But what won't happen is the word-of-mouth needed to push this picture into a large amount of box-office. Sure, Arnold's fans will flock to the picture, but even they might be unimpressed with the storyline. Additionally, there are no stand-out performances by any of the main characters.

Though it must be said that in their small roles (very small, they should have been larger), John Leguizamo and John Turturro both made their characters as interesting as was possible. And, not forgetting the star of the film, Schwarzenegger does a decent job with the role that's been handed him. It can only be said that with a better story (or script, really) this film would have held its own as a "pretty good action movie." But as it is, the film is uninteresting and predictable. There's even a surprise ending which isn't much of a surprise. So blame it on the screenwriter(s) or any number of filmmakers involved with this film, but Collateral Damage just doesn't have a lot to offer aside from a few explosions and some nice jungle shots.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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