Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a fireman in Los Angeles, and a damn good one at that, but one fateful day everything changed for him when he innocently offered to pick up his son at a restaurant which happened to be next to offices of the Colombian consulate. How was he to know the area had been designated an ideal spot for a terrorist attack by Colombian rebels? He soon found out though, as on arrival there he parked his car, spoke briefly to a policeman, and moved towards the building when there was a huge explosion...
The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the release of Collateral Damage, the last film Schwarzenegger starred in before he retired from the silver screen to turn to politics, were probably better known than the actual details of its plot and whether it was even any good or not. The answer to the latter conundrum was no, it wasn't, and with the personality's increasingly mediocre material it was no wonder that he diverted his attentions elsewhere for a good ten years or so. But with its subject matter of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, you can understand why it was seen as touchy.
Originally this was to be released in October 2001, but a certain event occured in mid-September that put paid to that, and out of sensitivity the studio pulled the film, perfectly reasonably as nobody would have wanted to see innocent Americans getting blown up in fiction so soon after so many had died in similar circumstances in real life. When this did get released in February of the next year, the wounds may not have healed but the thirst for revenge was running high, so the film was re-edited to emphasise the patriotism although the villains in this were not Islamic fundamentalists but rogue Colombians.
However, this counted on audience not being bothered by the difference, or even that the bad guys were your basic cartoonish villains who would not have been out of place in a Chuck Norris flick; indeed, this was the kind of meatheaded Hollywood product that demonised Central America back in the eighties and early nineties, only here there were hints that in its first incarnation it might have been taking a more level headed approach than many of its preceeding lookalikes. However, when the character putting the Colombian point of view was one of the nastiest people in the movie, you can't imagine anyone taking it too seriously as a political statement.
The long and the short of it was Gordy is fuelled by thoughts of vengeance about the death of his wife and child (who he looks old enough to be grandfather to) and after trashing the offices of a Colombian sympathiser he sets off to the jungle to track down the killer, who by coincidence he talked to that dreadful day: he was disguised as the cop, but is actually The Wolf (Cliff Curtis). Actual natives of that country may not recognise much about this, but this was no geography lesson, it was a delivery system for action sequences, although curiously Gordy proved here you could get your own back with extreme violence without the need to pick up a gun, which is some kind of progress presumably. With a late on twist that appears to order Colombians to go to hell unless they're prepared to be utterly Americanised because frankly Gordy doesn't see how he could trust any of them, a more measured mindset would have been helpful, but even the action was unlikely to get the heart racing. Music by Graeme Revell.