Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage (2001)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, John Leguizamo
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Scenes, Featurette, Trailer

After the incident on September 11, many studios reconsidered how to deal with certain films they had in their pipelines at the time, cautiously shuffling their release schedules in order to accommodate the healing process that was to follow the horrible events. Initially scheduled to be released only 2 weeks after the indicent, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest film, "Collateral Damage" was immediately pulled from the release schedules at the time and found its way into theaters only months later with little to no real promotional effort. Hardly surprising, given that the film’s premise revolves around a terrorist bombing which costs many people’s lives.

While the film could and should have been another blockbuster vehicle for the action superstar as he teamed up with "The Fugitive" director Andrew Davis, Arnold himself reportedly pressed for the low key release of the movie in respect to the real-life events. Be that as it may, "Collateral Damage" is now coming to DVD and there can be no question that the film will have a life on home video and seamlessly insert itself into the series of Schwarzenegger actioners.

While the movie doesn’t offer anything spectacularly new, we get to see Arnold Schwarzenegger the way we always preferred to. Tough and indestructible with a no-nonsense attitude. His character may not be deep, his lines may be flat as ever and the plot development as explosive as any Schwarzenegger action film, but ultimately that’s what made him the star we have come to appreciate and love. This time he is hunting down a terrorist leader who is responsible for the aforementioned bombing that killed his family.

Warner Home Video presents "Collateral Damage" in its original <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio in a transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The picture is absolutely clean and without speckles or other mars. The level of detail is very good and there is no notable grain evident in the presentation. Colors are faithfully reproduced with natural-looking skintones and vivid hues. The black level is meticulous, creating a bold image with plenty of visual depth, and shadows that never lose detail. The compression is flawless, leaving the image detail fully intact.

The DVD contains a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track, as well as a French dub that is also presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. As expected for such a new film, the audio presentation is bombastic and explosive with very aggressive use of the surround channels and a barrage of noises and sounds from all directions. Dialogue is well integrated, though occasionally, drowned out by the sound effects and the music, which appear much louder by comparison. The dynamic range of the presentation is impressive and reproduces everything, from the softest rustling of leaves to explosions that shake the house. With its impressive bass extension, the track certainly makes full use of the sonic spectrum and gives your equipment something to work with, but also the high ends are very clean and crisp without distortion.

"Collateral Damage" comes with a few extras that nicely add to the release. First up is a <$commentary,commentary track> by director Andrew Davis. The track is very insightful and offers plenty of information that is technical and anecdotal in nature. Occasionally Davis is going through a shot-by-shot analysis of certain scenes, explaining how these shots were created. It is also a very emotional track as you will soon learn. Davis was working with a number of New York firefighters on this movie, many of whom died in the 9/11 tragedy, and Davis’ reflection on these men clearly chokes him up for understandable reason.

The DVD also contains six additional scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut. Sadly you cannot access these scenes independently and have to watch them in sequence, but that’s just a minor quibble.

Also part of the release is "The Hero In A New Era," a behind-the-scenes featurette that features clips form the film montaged with talking heads interview footage. It is a nice addition that sheds some light on the circumstances that caused the film to be initially delayed as well as the filmmakers’ feelings on the subject matter and the fact that suddenly a movie like "Collateral Damage" has a reality to it that was initially not really intentional, as the movie is turning from mere entertainment to a reflection of real-life events. Running 8-minutes, this is a tastefully put together featurette that I think is an important addition to the release to capture the mindset of the current times for the future.

Filmographies for selected cast and crew members as well as the movie’s original theatrical trailer are also included on this DVD.

I have to caution our readers in a way. "Collateral Damage" is not a film for everyone in these times. The memories of 9/11 are still deep within us and the subject of the movie will bring back many of the emotions we all went through during the days after the attacks. In that respect the film is unsettling at times, but at the same time it moves away from the terrorist act and into the one-man-fighting-machine behind enemy lines territory fairly quickly, making it a tight action thriller that will keep you engrossed and captivated. Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger will certainly welcome this opportunity to finally get to see the actor back in action.