February 11, 2002

Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage.

My Review of Schwarzenegger's smart and geopolitically sober Collateral Damage.

Enormous Surprise: Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie about a fireman hunting down the terrorist who murdered his family is the #1 movie in the country! Who coulda thunk that the public would want to see such a thing? Well, for several months Hollywood didn't, for reasons that I dissected recently.

The critics have almost universally slammed Arnold's Collateral Damage, but for wildly contradictory reasons: It's outdated! It's too current! It's typical Arnold! It's not typical Arnold! It's too pro-American! It's too anti-American! It's a dessert topping! It's a floor wax! (Reviews are collected at RottenTomatoes.com.) Did anybody actually watch the movie before they decided what they were going to write? (I did - here's my review.)

The truth is that as an action movie, Collateral Damage won't make anybody forget Terminator 2. Still, despite staying within the bang-bang-boom-boom confines of the genre (a genre I, like many people, enjoy), it's the smartest, most even-handed Hollywood portrait of the Colombian nightmare since Clear and Present Danger. (Here's the review of a leftist critic who actually sort of gets it.) In fact, it's probably too thoughtful to make big bucks.

This demonstration that contemporary film critics are bigoted ignoramuses regarding the real world makes the news of the death of my role model, Richard Grenier, particularly saddening. In his legendary reviews in Commentary, Grenier demonstrated that movies were worthy topics for his vastly learned and skeptical intelligence. (Click here for his monumental demolition job on Gandhi.)

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