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Surging excitement and one-man heroics fuel this powerful action thriller from the director of The Fugitive and Under Siege. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a fireman whose wife and child are killed in a terrorist bombing and who obsessively tracks the mastermind (Cliff Curtis) behind it, from Los Angeles to Colombia to Washington, DC. The fanatic plans to strike again in Washington…but how? When? Where? In the scramble for answers, one thing is clear: Collateral Damage is a ticking time bomb of suspense.
For more about Collateral Damage and the Collateral Damage Blu-ray release, see Collateral Damage Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Andrew Davis
Writer: Ronald Roose
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis, John Leguizamo, Miguel Sandoval
» See full cast & crew
Collateral Damage Blu-ray Review
Good action, fair Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 16, 2012
You cannot take the law into your own hands.
While The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Collateral Damage may not be classic examples of art imitating life and vice versa, the real-life attacks did put a temporary halt to the film's scheduled October 2001 release. And certainly, the film does share a few primary similarities with that day. Collateral Damage's hero is a firefighter, and a terror attack in a major U.S. city -- Los Angeles to be exact -- leads to panic and the main character's own struggles with loss and a thirst for revenge. But otherwise, director Andrew Davis' (Above the Law) Collateral Damage plays as a fun and superficially routine Action flick that's full of explosions and gunfire but that goes above and beyond the call of duty, crafting a surprisingly deep plot, one with a rather heavy emotional undercurrent -- even beyond the loss of the main characters' family -- and a few quality twists and turns that keep the movie fresh and its landscape always evolving. While this may not be the quintessential Action movie -- it's no Die Hard -- or even the finest flick to Andrew Davis' name, this is a good, high quality, high yield Action movie, and as is always the case with a Schwarzenegger film, it's well worth seeing if only for the star's presence, energy, and charisma.
Los Angeles firefighter Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) saves lives. Others, however, are out to take them. Gordy's family is lost in a bomb blast in downtown Los Angeles that targets Colombian and American officials; his dead wife and son and brushed off as "collateral damage," unfortunate casualties of war. Officially, the U.S. government cannot do much of anything about Gordy's loss. Worse, the U.S. is pulling out of Colombia, much to the chagrin of counter-terrorism expert and the government's lead man on militant Colombian affairs, Peter Brandt (Elias Koteas). Unofficially, Brandt isn't ready to let go and allow the terrorist, identified as a dangerous militant leader known as "El Lobo" ("The Wolf"), to get away with murder. But even Brandt cannot condone what Gordy's about to do. The widower plans a daring incursion deep into terrorist-held Colombian territory where he hopes to terminate the man responsible for his family's death, the terrorist leader Claudio Perrini (Cliff Curtis) whom Gordy remembers seeing at the bomb site just prior to the explosion. But getting in won't be easy, and infiltrating the camp will be next to impossible. But when Gordy happens upon a kindly woman named Selena (Francesca Neri), he finds a new resolve and unearths new information about Claudio and a potentially disastrous second attack on U.S. soil that only he can prevent. But as Gordy comes to learn, appearances are deceiving and in the world of terrorism, nothing and nobody are as they appear.
Delayed though it might have been, Collateral Damage is perhaps in many ways the movie America needed following September 11. It stars one of the most recognizable Action movie heroes of them all in Arnold Schwarzenegger; his characters are almost always likable and witty yet tough and capable of incredible physical feats. He has that almost unnatural ability that combines a relatable demeanor, even an "everyman" persona -- larger than life though he may be -- with an uncanny ability to kick some serious behind. In Collateral Damage, the stage is set for the ultimate feel-good, go-get-em, "made in the U.S.A." sort of movie, and that it stars a foreign-born actor only reinforces the sense of post-9/11 togetherness and understanding of American ideals and values that are personified in an immigrant who's become every bit an American icon. Even if the movie's not perfect, and even if it doesn't play on the same scale of a 9/11, there's no denying that something like this -- taken in after the initial shock of the moment had worn off -- is pretty good medicine to get the juices flowing and to remember that there's a place and time for fighting the good fight and a purpose beyond simple revenge. In fact, the main theme of Collateral Damage deals in how different people respond to raw hate and anger and revenge, and that the movie isn't absolutely cut-and-dry -- there's some really deep characters here -- makes the message all the more important in the 21st century landscape.
As a picture removed from the greater-than-expected hubbub that surrounds it thanks only to the fate of timing, Collateral Damage works well enough as a rough and tough Action flick. It's a little dark and gritty even for an Arnold movie, and the complexity of the characters and the enhanced drama certainly leave a different impression than do the more traditional shooters from Arnold's early career, Commando being a prime example. The humanization of the action and various plot twists up the ante beyond mere violence. In fact, that Arnold never really totes around a bunch of weapons -- the character relies more on technical skill, observation, smarts, and raw human determination rather than a personal arsenal of weaponry to get the job done -- is enough to distinguish this move from the next and give it a more personal and intimate appeal. The characters are well-rounded even as they initially appear to be little more than generic Action movie fodder. At its center, then, is a story of how man allows circumstance to shape his life, using violence and despair either for evil or in an effort to put an end to the circle of violence, not widen its range. Director Andrew Davis crafts the movie with a slightly hard edge, even as the movie enjoys the technical polish and evident know-how of any quality Hollywood Action movie. While Collateral Damage may not be the classic Action film that is Davis' Under Siege and while it never quite captures the same character intensity and high-stakes drama of The Fugitive, it definitely hits all the right notes, from the difficult emotional terrain the film traverses to the go-get-em Action/Adventure qualities that primarily define the whole.
Collateral Damage Blu-ray, Video Quality
Collateral Damage arrives on Blu-ray with a somewhat disappointing 1080p transfer. The image appears consistently soft, particularly in its darker stretches which don't always yield the most impressively crisp and perfectly-defined images to be sure, but it's clear this one isn't all it could be. Brighter scenes capture a bit more detail, but it's clear that the film has fallen victim to a little tinkering. It's somewhat smooth, with little grain, obviously worked over and scrubbed down, but not a disastrous extent. The image still manages to acceptably capture basic facial and clothing textures, but the image rarely finds that natural film-like appearance. Colors are fairly steady, with green vegetation, bright firefighter equipment, and the like appearing true to the source and never too bright or dull. Flesh tones maintain an accurate neutrality, and black levels never fall into an extreme of crush or unnatural brightness. The image is relatively free of distracting banding, blocking, or print wear, but some edge halos are evident. There's a very nice looking image in here somewhere, but sadly, the transfer on this Blu-ray disc isn't quite up to par or what fans deserve.
Collateral Damage Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Collateral Damage doesn't really bust up sound systems as listeners might expect. Warner Brothers' Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless presentation sounds always a bit shallow and struggling to find that last little bit of power and oomph, to really explode into the upper-echelon of intense Action movie soundtracks. Things begin promisingly enough. The opening firefighting segment features the blaze engulfing the listening area, the hot intensity crackling and all but burning up the speakers. The sounds of shattering glass, collapsing structures, various pops, and screaming firefighters and victims play all over the stage; surround use is natural, and the moment is quite frightening and well-defined. Listeners get a taste of a big, balanced, immersive, and nicely cinematic soundtrack. Unfortunately, the track takes a slight dip in quality thereafter. Music and sound effects seem somehow reserved and not fully stretched out, though certainly general spacing and placement are of no concern. Gunfire and explosions don't want for much more authenticity, but they do lack absolute punch and volume. Still, the track makes fine use of the surround channels, through all the heavy fighting and via plenty of minor interior and natural exterior ambience that give shape to the presentation. Like the sound effects, however, dialogue often plays with a hint of shallowness and a clear absence of appropriate volume at reference levels. Still, this one's enjoyable, if not in need of some minor tweaking.
Collateral Damage Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Collateral Damage contains a commentary, two featurettes, additional scenes, and a trailer.
Collateral Damage Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Collateral Damage suddenly watches a little different than it might have were it just another Action movie in a pre-9/11 world. It's nothing unique, but it's difficult to watch and set aside the memory of that day and the film's delay. In a vacuum, this is a solid Arnold movie with characters and motivations a bit deeper than they normally come, and in the world as it is the movie is a reminder of good versus evil and how violence can shape a man for the better or for the worse. In either realm, it's a well-made, high quality Action picture that's a middle-of-the-pack Arnold movie and a somewhat above average Action flick. Warner's Blu-ray release of Collateral Damage features slightly disappointing video and audio. The supplements are average in both quality and quantity. But at a sub-$10 price point, this is a film worth adding to the collection. Recommended.
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Collateral Damage Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - April 7th - April 7, 2009
When making a film about a controversial subject, it is often difficult to represent the subject matter in a way that will appeal to general audiences. Tread too lightly on the subject, and the message can be lost or misunderstood; tread too heavy, and the message ...
• Warner Specs Out Collateral Damage - January 28, 2009
Warner Home Video has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Collateral Damage', which is due to hit store shelves on April 7th. Coming on a BD-25, video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p VC-1 accompanied by a 5.1 ...
• Warner Announces 10 Blu-rays for April 7th - December 18, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring 10 of their most popular catalog titles to Blu-ray on April 7th. These titles include 'The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition', 'American History X', 'Final Destination', 'Point of No Return', 'Taking Lives: ...
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