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Film / Collateral Damage

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El Lobo: The fireman, huh?
Gordon Brewer: The coward who kills women and children.
El Lobo: You Americans are so naive. You see a peasant with a gun on the news, you change channels. But you never ask, "Why does a peasant need a gun?" Why? You think you're the only ones who can fight for independence?
Gordon Brewer: Independence to do what? Kill my wife and son?

Collateral Damage is an action thriller from 2002, directed by Andrew Davis and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After his family is killed in an explosion caused by Colombian terrorist El Lobo (Cliff Curtis), Los Angeles fireman Gordon Brewer sets out to get him.

Originally set to be released in October of 2001, the film had to pushed to early 2002 due to the 9/11 attacks.

This film has the examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Brewer seems to have this reaction silently when seeing Felix is executed because of him, as despite having been working with the guerrillas and producing drugs he had been quite friendly to him.
  • Arc Words / Catchphrase: El Lobo's "Sangre o Libertad" (meaning "blood or liberty").
  • Arch-Enemy: Gordon Brewer has Claudio "El Lobo" Perrini, the terrorist leader who killed his family.
  • Batter Up!: Gordon, in his anguish, thrashes the Colombian group's office with a baseball bat when he hears his family referred to as "collateral damage".
  • Big "NEVER!": A variant occurs in the final showdown:
    Gordon: It's over!
    Selena: It's never over!
  • Big "NO!": Gordon lets one out when he sees his family getting killed by the terrorist bomb at the beginning.
  • Character Tic: The ALC spokesperson has a habit of ending their video by smacking their hands. Gordon noticed Selena doing it at her son.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Gordon is a fireman. This comes in handily when he wants to get access to a bombing place (he can help), escaping a building on fire (he remains calm and knows how to avoid the flames), vividly describing Armstrong what the effects of being burned alive are in order to frighten him, and using a fireman's ax as a weapon in the movie's climax.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Averted. The CIA are depicted as protagonists, particularly Brandt, although a bit shady.
  • Darker and Edgier: Along with End of Days, when compared to other Arnold films.
  • Death by Cameo: Arnold's buddy Sven-Ole Thorsen appears briefly as a man smoking a cigarette right before the fateful explosion happens.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: After Gordon kills Selena in self-defense, Claudio's reaction is of similar anguish as Gordon had about him killing his own family.
  • Guile Hero: Despite it being an action movie Gordon does almost no fighting and instead relies on outsmarting the bad guys.
  • High-Voltage Death: How Selena is killed when Gordon throws her onto the exposed circuitry of the control panel.
  • Latino Is Brown: Chocó, Colombia, where Gordon travels to is in real life almost completely inhabited by black people. However, not a single black person appears in the film; all its inhabitants are brownish.
  • Man Bites Man: Gordon bites one of the terrorist during an escape attempt, tearing off his ear.
  • Mangst: The first ten minutes or so are Gordon wallowing in angst (while occasionally beating things up); the rest of the movie is him beating things up (while occasionally wallowing in angst).
  • Mle Trois: Once Gordon arrives in Colombia, it's between him versus the guerrilla versus the paramilitaries.
  • Neck Snap: How Selena kills the FBI agent watching her.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Claudio delivers a brief but brutal one to Gordon after Gordon kills Selena in the climax.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • The Colombian spokesman points that the Los Angeles bombing is par for the course in Colombia, both by the guerrillas and paramilitary factions supported by the United States.
    • Claudio tries to invoke this with Gordon, citing his own Papa Wolf-related Start of Darkness. However Gordon invokes Shut Up, Hannibal! by stating that he has no intention of likewise becoming a full-blown terrorist, instead focusing his revenge on just Claudio himself.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: The Americans, of course. Pretty much the reason why they launched the attack that killed Gordon's family.
    El Lobo!Selena: We'll continue to strike until the American public finally realizes this war's price is one they cannot afford. Get out of Colombia, now.
  • Outrun the Fireball: In the climax, Gordon runs away from a massive explosion as El Lobo and Selena take aim at him while chasing him on a motorcycle.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: The Title Drop dismissal of the casualties of the bomb (including Gordon's family) as "collateral damage", less important overall next to the ALC's political statement.
  • Papa Wolf: Gordon. With his own son, he is out to kill the guy who killed him (with a side of Crusading Widow, as well). With Selena's kid, he is willing to risk himself so the kid will not become collateral damage to his own Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: This movie was actually affected by the 9/11 attacks.
  • The Reveal: Selena is the ALC spokesman.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gordon is just a fireman. He decides to take on a Colombian cartel/terrorist organization in revenge for his dead family.
  • Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: Again, very serious when compared to other Arnold films.
  • Small Reference Pools: Averted to some degree. While obviously a Hollywood action flick, the movie cares to differentiate between the Colombian government, the guerrillas (ALC), the paramilitaries and the US government/CIA/DEA.
  • Something Only They Would Say: A variation as Brewer is hit by how the Wolf's video has him using the same hand gestures Selena uses and realizes they're the same person.
  • Spotting the Thread: late in the film right before the third act, Gordon suddenly deduces Selena to be the actual terrorist leader, "The Wolf", after seeing her made a hand gesture similar to one used in the Wolf's ransom video.
  • Technical Pacifist: Unlike other action movies dealing with terrorists, Gordon never uses a firearm at all to kill anyone. Even in the scene when escaping from a police roadblock in Colombia and disarming an officer's AR-15, he just throws it away the instant he gets shot at.
  • Title Drop: A man from the Colombian embassy that is interviewed dismisses the deaths of Gordon's wife and son (and the other people who died on the bombing) as "collateral damage" to El Lobo's political statement. This makes Gordon snap and wrecks the man's offices with a baseball bat while yelling "Here's your damn collateral damage!!".
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Gordon throws an ax to kill El Lobo
  • Too Much Information: Gordon tells Armstrong in vivid detail what will happen to him if he burns alive, while being caged in a burning jail, in order to convince him to give his safe-conduct.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: What the Colombian diaspora in Los Angeles thinks of the FARC. The CIA is willing to do (covert) total war on the ALC as well, risking hurting innocents with carpet bombing, because they think killing a bunch of determined terrorists is better than the alternative.
    Brandt: I fight terrorists with terror!
  • Western Terrorists: The ALC. Based out of Colombia, get funding from drugs, destroy American lives.
  • Working-Class Hero: Gordon. He is not the typical One-Man Army Arnold plays, he is "just" a fireman.
  • Would Hit a Girl: A self defense example. After she starts inflicting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on him, Gordon elbows Selena and throws her headfirst into an electrical panel during the climax
  • Would Hurt a Child: Selena left her son behind to die in the explosion because he doesn't support his parents' cause. Fortunately, Gordon gets rid of the bomb after realizing Selena was the FARC spokesperson. El Lobo doesn't seem to mind that she left their son behind.