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Screenwriters of the world, cheer up! "Collateral Damage" proves that you
are more important than Hollywood wants you to think. For even the
starpower of a Schwarzenegger is no match for a sloppily written
screenplay. The premise is simple enough: a L.A. fireman's family is
killed by a Colombian terrorist, so our hero follows the slimeball to
Latin America to deliver some personal payback. The main problem is
something that derails many promising screenplays -- plausibility. Even
the most outrageous plots have to follow some kind of logic. But according
to "Collateral Damage," every fireman must receive training rivaling the
Green Berets, since our protagonist strolls through the jungles of
Colombia like he was in Griffith Park, outfights and outwits all the
death-squads and Marxist guerillas out to waste him, and even finds time
to rig high-explosives out of every object and/or substance he comes
across. Then there is the terrorist villain "El Lobo," a man who is such a
micro-manager he personally goes to America to detonate every bomb
himself, even when the FBI knows exactly what he looks like. The final
plot twist is the most problematic, not only because it is ripped off
wholesale from "Arlington Road," but because it only works if you believe
that Colonel Sanders protects his eleven herbs and spices with better
security than the State Department does its own headquarters. If there's a
lesson to be learned here, it's that if you don't take care of
plausibility, it certainly will take care of you.

A graduate of USC's School of Cinema-Television, Tom McCurrie has worked
as a development executive and a story analyst. He is currently a
screenwriter living in Los Angeles.

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