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Talk about a movie with bad timing. COLLATERAL DAMAGE ($27) was in the can and scheduled for a fall 2001 release when September 11th happened. With a plot that involved a terrorist attack on American soil, the Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer had its theatrical release delayed into 2002. However, when COLLATERAL DAMAGE finally arrived in theaters, I don’t think anyone was capable of judging the movie on its own merits. COLLATERAL DAMAGE is a solid action outing that finds Schwarzenegger back in form and displaying a bit more maturity as an actor. The plot requires more emotional depth than any of Schwarzenegger’s film roles and the actor shows he is capable of more than firing a gun, flexing his muscles and delivering a funny comeback.

In COLLATERAL DAMAGE, Schwarzenegger portrays heroic firefighter Gordon Brewer, who loses his wife and young son in a terrorist bombing incident outside a Los Angeles office building. A Columbian guerilla leader nicknamed "El Lobo" takes responsibility for the attack after having fled back to his homeland. Although, the U.S. government has been running quasi-military operations in Columbia to curtail the drug trade, CIA Agent Peter Brandt (Elias Koteas), informs Brewer that for political reasons, it is unlikely that he will see justice for his dead wife and son. For that reason, Brewer decides to take matters into his own hands and travels down to Columbia to Kill "El Lobo" himself. However, unlike the super action heroes that Schwarzenegger usually plays, Brewer is an ordinary guy who is driven by grief and relying on luck to carry out his mission to avenge his wife and son. Of course, COLLATERAL DAMAGE does supply plenty of action, suspense and a couple of surprises, making the film an entertaining entry for the action movie/political thriller genres. The cast of COLLATERAL DAMAGE also features Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis, Miguel Sandoval, Harry J. Lennix, John Leguizamo, and John Turturro.

Warner Home Video has made COLLATERAL DAMAGE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This really is a great looking transfer, which is no surprise, considering that this is a brand new, big budget action movie just coming off theatrical release. The image on the DVD is incredibly sharp and well defined, with even the most miniscule details coming out in the well-lit cinematography. Colors are quite vibrant and flesh tones are wholly natural throughout the presentation. There are absolutely no sign of chroma noise or smearing to mar the fine color reproduction. Blacks are completely pure, whites are wholly stable and contrast is usually smooth, with a few harsher moments thrown in for effect. Shadow detail is uniformly excellent thanks to the sensitivity of the film stock and the first rate lighting work of cinematographer Adam Greenberg. Dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts very well concealed.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is another knockout! This is an aggressive action movie mix with plenty of surround usage, as well as cohesive panning of sound effects throughout the entire soundstage. There is plenty of gunfire, explosions and screeching tires, as well as good ambient recreations of the film’s jungle environments and interiors. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and clean, with excellent intelligibility- even with all the actors’ accents. The bass channel is deep and forcefully percussive, which enhances all the gunplay, explosions and the music. Speaking of the music, Graeme Revell’s unobtrusive score is rendered with excellent clarity and fidelity. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtites.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as the DVD’s supplemental materials. Director Andrew Davis, who discusses the making of the film in great detail, provides an enjoyable running audio commentary. A fifteen-minute "making of" featurette that includes interviews with the director and stars is also included on the DVD. While somewhat "fluffy," the program does have its serious side with its acknowledgement of the September 11th tragedy. Delving a little bit deeper into this area is The Hero In A New Era, an eight-minute program in which director Davis and Schwarzenegger discuss COLLATERAL DAMAGE in relation to terrorism and the events of September 11th. Roughly eight minutes of deleted scenes are provided on the DVD; they are interesting to see once, but they didn’t add anything significant to the story and were obviously cut for pacing. A theatrical trailer, plus cast & crew filmographies close out the supplements. COLLATERAL DAMAGE also has a DVD-ROM section, which is comprise of web links and the theatrical web site.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE provides solid action entertainment and a bit of a stretch for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting abilities. Warner Home Video’s presentation of COLLATERAL DAMAGE looks and sounds fantastic, making this disc a must have for anyone looking to feed their home theater system something along the lines of a new demo caliber DVD.



Collateral Damage (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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