Monday, January 14, 2013

You know how Germans are... like cyborgs

Collateral Damage (2002)
The third in a row of the Arnold movies I skipped at the theater after being bitch-slapped by Batman & Robin.  While it's not a bad film, it's not particularly memorable either.  The blame for that probably lies as much in the product as the timing.  Originally due to be released in October of 2001 and quietly pushed back and reworked when terrorists trying to bomb buildings in the US forever took on a different flavor.  I remember hearing about this at the time and remember some of the early posters showing a building complete with fire and smoke billowing out of it.  Not such a fun thing to watch a movie about at the time.  All things being equal, it's probably best that this didn't come out beforehand or I'm sure blame would have been heaped on it for giving people ideas, regardless of how long they'd already been planning.  I give full props to Warner Brothers for the re-edit, tasteful change in advertising, and pushed back release date.

Okay, enough of the unpleasant memories...  The first 3/4 of this was actually pretty decent and had me along for the ride.  I was fully onboard and digging it and it wasn't until they get back to the US to try to head off the captain from Sunshine blowing shit up that they lost me.  No particular plausibility issues, I just didn't much care about the whole twist/reveal bit and the race to stop the baddies felt rushed and just all around meh.  Hell, even that wasn't all bad and I was okay when Arnold detonates an explosion in the building to stop someone from detonating an explosion in the building, but then we have to go over into Unnecessary Drama (said in a singsong voice) land.  This is a frequent failing of movies and I'm sure everyone has experienced this at one time or another.  Things are at their fever pitch, the good guys are about to win, but wait! It's not over! Oh noes!  Gollum falls into crack of Mt Doom and the heroes win!  But then Frodo needlessly falls in after him!  Will Sam save him?!?  Just stop it and end the movie.  You already gave the payoff, don't screw it up by trying to sustain the excitement longer than merited.  Rather than increasing my enjoyment, that just makes me go 'ugh' and completely takes me out of the movie. 

Arnold did a damn fine job looking numb and grief-stricken at the beginning of the film.  If you've ever suffered a devastating personal loss, you've seen that look in the mirror.  Spot-on and by far the biggest depth of emotion I've seen out of him in his career.  He did equally well at the transition from despair to vengeance.  Oddly enough, it's his emoting early on that really works in this film, it's only once it goes to full action/thriller that my apathy kicked in.  He does his thing well and they did an admirable job tailoring the way he fights back to his character's firefighting/bomb unit experience.  About half way through, I started realizing they might just have him fight off a bunch of rebels without suddenly revealing that the firefighter also did a tour in Nam and learned heavy weaponry use from John Rambo.  And they did!  Got a little contrived at the end, but for the most part fit the character well and was a nice that they didn't literally go all Commando on it like they easily could have.

Ahnold Quotient - 4
It's fun that they have him get through the whole movie without using a gun, and it actually works just fine with the story, but that's not Ahnold.  Don't think we had a single one-liner.  He does, however use multiple IEDs to take out a cocaine farm, uses a gas line to take flambe the baddies, and gets to imbed an axe in a guy's heart.  So he's got that going for him.  Which is nice.

Rewatchability - No thanks
Didn't feel like I wasted my time and actually quite enjoyed bits of it, particularly Arnold's acting early on.  But much like Eraser, there's just not enough going on to keep maintain my interest and I don't see myself unlocking additional layers to the movie through rewatch.  Was fun to see another Arnold movie I'd never seen though!

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