The last eight years have not been kind to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He hasn't had a bona fide hit since 1994's "True Lies", and his muscle-bound machismo has looked increasingly passé compared to the likes of Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves. To make matters worse, his latest blockbuster had its release date put back by Warner Brothers lest its story prove inappropriate in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Although you can see their point, the only people likely to be offended by this formulaic actioner are cinemagoers who spend their hard-earned cash going to see it. It's not particularly bad, just deeply, painfully average. Even Schwarzenegger looks faintly embarrassed headlining such a patently substandard vehicle.
Like "D-TOX" - Sylvester Stallone's woeful last offering - "Collateral Damage" aims to give its leading man some humanity by having him suffer a tragic loss: in Arnie's case, seeing his wife and daughter blown up in the opening reel. But no sooner have a couple of tears trickled down that immobile visage than Arnold's firefighter hero Gordy Brewer goes all Commando, popping down to South America to give Colombian drugs kingpin 'El Lobo' (Curtis), aka The Wolf, a taste of his own medicine.
The "Romancing the Stone"-style shenanigans are handled well by director Andrew Davis, but there's something slightly distasteful about Arnold taking matters into his own hands and winning the war against terrorism single-handedly. Such reactionary Reaganism may have made his name two decades ago, but now it just seems naive, trite, and even a little dangerous.