Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, first got wind of this political thriller from a skiing pal, producer Steven Reuther. ”Maria has probably single-handedly gotten this movie going for me to star in it,” says the actor. ”The movie was going out at that time to other actors.” Such as? ”Well, I don’t get involved in those things, [but] there’s a certain amount of guys that get the same script, if it is Harrison Ford, if it is Bruce Willis. But Maria was very insistent, saying, ‘Arnold would be perfect in this.”’
Shriver liked the topicality of the plot, which involves Colombian terrorists (they were Libyans in early drafts) blowing up a U.S. consulate — an office that happens to be housed in a mainly civilian building. Fireman Gordon Brewer (Schwarzenegger), whose wife and son were killed in the Oklahoma City-like attack, journeys to South America to find the man who planted the bomb. Along the way, he encounters a rap-crazed drug lord (Leguizamo) before bonding with the terrorist’s wife (Neri), who, it turns out, has also lost a child. ”He gets his head turned around about politics,” says director Davis (”The Fugitive”), who shot some additional fight-scene material in August after wrapping a five-month shoot in L.A. and Mexico late winter. ”I’m hoping this movie brings attention to the tragedy going on in Colombia. We’re getting involved in a huge military operation down there under the pretense of a drug war. It’s much more than that.”
For Arnold, the big deal is playing a normal guy — not a superhuman terminator — who gets by on his fireman skills. ”The story’s the most important thing,” he says. ”That’s why you’re seeing all these movies that have extraordinary visual effects but no story dropping 60 percent at the box office the second weekend.” From bone cruncher to number cruncher — that’s our Arnold.