By Scott Brown
August 02, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

What ever happened to the diesel-driven action picture of yesteryear? Panzers like ”Commando” and ”Predator” had one glorious thing — besides Arnold Schwarzenegger — in common: brazen, irony-free pride in their own meat-headedness.

Collateral Damage, on the other hand, is more akin to one of the Pentagon’s ”smart bombs”: same crude oblivion under the skin, but retrofitted with spurious moral nuances and targeted to land squarely (and I do mean squarely) in the squishy heart of Boomerville.

That’s the spiritual hometown of L.A. firefighter Gordy Brewer (Schwarzenegger), who runs off to dispense some jungle justice after his wife and child die in a bomb attack by Colombian terrorist El Lobo (Cliff Curtis). (Now, if Los Lobos had killed his family, that would have been an interesting flick.) But all-weather Arnie is out of his element this time: Tramping grimly through the rain forest, he looks sad, exhausted, and, well, 55. The effect is poignant and probably unintentional — ”Damage” is too busy agonizing over whether it’s a flabby revenge fantasy or a thinking meathead’s examination of America’s own terrorist impulses. It’s neither, of course: just a bomb, and not a particularly smart one at that.

  • Movie
  • R
  • 115 minutes
  • Andrew Davis
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