Lets Roll!

Collateral Damage steps out of the shadows

Of course, there's no reason to sentimentalize the Colombian civil war, none of whose factions can be described as good liberals. Still, Collateral Damage is far more telling in what it suggests—unwittingly for the most part—about us, about the rabid mixture of hubris, paranoia, xenophobia and downright muddleheadedness with which we define our own place on the stage of world terrorism, not to mention the bizarre uses to which American individualism can be put under pressure. That the movie offers a ringing endorsement of vigilante justice is par for the course: it's an Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller. Yet in the process of tracking down the man who not only killed his family, but—in a plot twist whose eerie prescience must have the distributors reaching for their Maalox—also plans to blow up some crucial government buildings in Washington, D.C., Gordy finds himself a target not only of El Lobo, but of a ruthless CIA loose cannon, represented in a weaselly turn by the Canadian actor Elias Koteas. Meanwhile, scenes of U.S.-sponsored planes zooming in to flatten the drug baron's hideaway evoke shades of Apocalypse Now and fears of the Vietnamization of American involvement in Colombia. Collateral Damage may be pressing its Hollywood-liberal credentials here, but it wouldn't surprise me if the vast majority of American moviegoers see in Gordy a reflection of their own mistrust of institutions, be they "theirs" or ours. It may, after all, be easier for Americans to love a firefighter than it is for them to love their government.

Collateral Damage was directed by Andrew Davis; written by David and Peter Griffiths; produced by Steven Reuther and David Foster; and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cliff Curtis. Now playing countywide.

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