It's fairly logical that Arnold Schwarzenneger would run for Governer of California. After all, he's married into one of the most prominent political families in the country, has strong political beliefs, and...well... face it; his career is deader than a possum on an L.A. freeway. Post 9/11, there's just no room for Arnold and his terrorist busting ways, and, as he gets older, he's looking less like the muscle bound Conan, and more like Sloth from The Goonies. He certainly can't do any more damage to the American psyche in politics than he has in his films, that's for certain.
In Collateral Damage, we get to peek back at that innocent time when terrorists only attacked us on film, and we could depend on one man to seek them out and destroy them before they struck again. Of course, in real life, George W. Bush is that man. Is it any wonder we need the escape of cinema?
Collateral Damage opens with an explosion that levels a Los Angeles building, killing the wife and son of Fireman Gordy Brewer (Schwarzenneger), who, only moments before, walked right past the man who blew it up; a Colombian revolutionary named "The Wolf" Perrini (Curtis). Brewer is shattered, and decides that he must kill Perrini, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the C.I.A. has been trying to catch this guy for years and haven't been able to get within a hundred yards of him with their limitless resources.
Brewer, however, is a fireman. A fucking fireman.
Let's stop there. Who on God's green Earth thought it was a good idea to make Brewer a fireman?? This was a PRE-9/11 production, so the nation's post tragedy love-affair with rescue types didn't factor into this decision at all. What skills does Brewer have that would make him an effective anti-terrorist agent? There's no mention of military training, or of him being a gun afficionado. Cripes, the very least they could have done was made him some sort of fireman/Kung-Fu expert. But no.
Brewer is a fireman. He puts out fires. Oh, and he's kinda big.
Anyway, Brewer decides to get Perrini, and the C.I.A tries to talk him out of it. Of course, Brewer has only one goal, and that's to kill the man who killed his family, so the C.I.A begins following him around to keep him in check. Within seconds, the ninja-like Brewer manages to evade them, and flies down to Colombia illegally.
In this film, C.I.A. is short for Can't Interfere with Arnold.
Brewer starts to wander around the streets of Bogata, looking for clues to the whereabouts of The Wolf, when he encounters a woman (Neri) and child being hassled by local toughs. Being an idiot, Brewer confronts the men, poking them in the chest, berating them in English, and generally creating a scene. The Colombian police arrive, see that this is the guy that the C.I.A. are after, and throw him in the clink. It's here that he meets a mechanic (Turturro, in a cameo) that has a "pass" up river to where The Wolf's gorillas reside. Brewer tries to negotiate the pass from him, but during their bartering session, the gorillas break into the prison to free some of their incarcerated men. It's here, of course, that a fire breaks out, giving Brewer's profession it's moment of usefulness. He frees himself, and then the mechanic (after he agrees to give him his pass), and they escape into the night, narrowly avoiding the C.I.A. once again.
Brewer dons a "disguise" (a white hat) and heads up river, posing as a German mechanic. When he arrives, he meets a likeable drug czar (Leguizamo, whose also in this film for less than five minutes) who takes him back to his compound to work on a diesel generator that powers his operation. Meanwhile, one of the guards who let Brewer pass up river realises that Brewer is, in fact, a fireman. He realises this thanks to a newspaper on his desk that clearly shows both Brewer and The Wolf in the same photo, and may as well say "Fireman and Terrorist" above it. The Wolf is informed, and sends his men to the drug czars compound to get Brewer, however Brewer is ready for them (inexplicably). Apparently, the Anarchist's Cookbook is required reading in the L.A.F.D., as he makes a bomb out of several MacGuyver-like elements, and blows the generator up, killing most of the population of the compound, as well as a few of The Wolf's men. Brewer then hitches a ride back to The Wolf's encampment by hanging underneath one of their trucks.
When the truck arrives back at The Wolf's "camp" (it's actually a fairly sizeable village that the C.I.A. apparently opted not to look for), Brewer whips out another homemade explosive, and places it on top of a fuel depot adjacent to The Wolf's villa. However, as Brewer sneaks off, he sees the woman and child he met when he first arrived heading toward the building, and runs out to save them, giving The Wolf a heads-up to get outta Dodge. After being bludgeoned by many things, and saying "gah!" (Arnold's usual reaction to pain), he's chained up in a barn. It turns out that the woman and child are actually the wife and adopted son of The Wolf, so Brewer's life is spared for saving theirs. The wife, Selena, tells Brewer of The Wolf's history, telling us he was once a teacher and a gentle man, but the government killed their son, and he became a revolutionary. This, of course, doesn't sway Brewer, as he tries to strangle The Wolf with his chains, and gets beat down again amidst a sea of "gahs!".
When Brewer comes to, Selena is nursing his wounds and tells him she wants to help him stop The Wolf. She tells Brewer that he's left for Washington D.C. to set off another bomb, and she can no longer be a part of his murderous world. Brewer tells her he'll take her back to America, and they set off into the Colombian jungle just as a fleet of C.I.A. helicopters arrive and pulverize the village with bombs and machine gun fire. The C.I.A. catches up to Brewer, Selena, and the young boy, whereupon Brewer informs them of The Wolf's wherabouts and the trio are zipped back to D.C. to identify his next target. While Selena is busy looking at photos of monuments (she only knows what the target looks like), we begin to see her TRUE motivation. She's duped Brewer into taking her right into the heart of the C.I.A., and has smuggled in a bomb, hidden in one of the boy's toys!
Ridiculous you say?? Wait! We're not done!!
Selena takes off to the bathroom, leaving the toy dinosaur behind, and Brewer gets suspicious. He puts two and two together, smashes open a window and tosses the dinosaur out, as Selena triggers the explosion. Brewer then pursues her into the building's basement tunnels (?!) where The Wolf is waiting on a motorcycle.
Let's stop for a moment. Why is it that, in a building FILLED with elite agents, Brewer is the only person pursuing Selena? I realise that the explosion served as a nice decoy, but everyone now knows she's in cahoots with The Wolf, so why is it that the fireman is the only guy chasing her?
Anyway, The Wolf and Selena take off down the tunnels, but Brewer seals the exits, and then grabs an axe (fireman!) and pops a bunch of holes in the gas pipes at the mouth of the tunnel. The Wolf and Selena turn around and head back to the control panel to re-open the exits, only to find Brewer standing there, axe in hand. Selena draws a gun, fires, and blows the place sky high. Brewer emerges (of course) virtually unscathed, and stands above the remnants of the motorcycle, admiring his handiwork, when Selena jumps on his back (she too looks remarkably good for someone who'd just been at the epicenter of a cataclysmic explosion). Brewer makes short work of her, tossing her into an electrical doo-dad that zaps her to death. Brewer's about done, he assumes, but, of course, The Wolf isn't, and the two engage in a brief bout of fisticuffs, culminating with yet another axe attack from Brewer the homicidal fireman. The terrorists are dead, Brewer is rewarded (in "news report" voiceover), and the world is safe once again. The End.
Well, that was pretty much the whole film in a nutshell. Hope you didn't want to see it. It was rubbish anyway.