10, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 152
Collateral Damage Is Terrorism--
Watching It Is The Terror
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City--There's nothing more Terrifying than
sitting through an Arnie Swartzchenegger movie bored and grumbling that
you can't wait for it to end.
My wife and I went early to the movie to get good
seats. I brought along two copies of the New Yorker Magazine, and a
World Almanac to review facts and statistics while we waited for "curtain
To enhance the evening, we smuggled in an order of
beef fried rice, and enjoyed a "theater picnic" waiting for the
lights to dim and the packed theater to start cheering the Terminator Man.
The one who always says: "Ill be back" in guttural
I was ready for a good movie, after having walked out
of a number recently like Gosford Park and Lantana which were given
glowing stars and super hype as great movies. A good old action
thriller with Arnie kicking butt would suffice a Saturday evening in New
Was I in for a surprise.
In my humble and often demanding opinion, I
thought the movie sucked. So did my wife. We grumped and
grumbled through it. Usually I give a movie no more than ten minutes
to capture my attention, having found over the decades they rarely get
any better. If they don't reach the 5-Plus level at the end of
600 seconds, I'm usually long gone either to another movie, or across the
street to some coffee shop where I can write or people watch or sketch out
an article or take photos. I just can't justify wasting
my time in agony.
The Terrorist in the movie evoked little or
no emotion. I found myself not caring whether superhero Arnie
broke his neck or not, or cut him up into little pieces or just whacked
his head off with a fire axe. When you don't care what the
superhero does to the villain, the whole show is flawed from the
Allegedly, this "unknown" terrorist so
carefully guards his identity that no one has ever seen his face, except,
of course, our main hero, Arnie. Through bad direction and
worse acting and even more indefensible scripting, the "anonymous"
terrorist takes off his glasses and smiles at Arnie just before he blows
up a building and takes out Arnie's wife and son.
I knew I was in trouble right then. I
thought of the original spy movies of them all, Day Of The Jackal.
When anyone saw his face, they were instantly dead. He took no
Here's this allegedly #1 world terrorist who just
saunters off after exposing his face? No! I
shouted to myself, this is going to be bad. It went from bad to
Arnie is a fire captain. But he
doesn't kill anyone, not with bare hands. He's decidedly "anti-Terroristic"
himself. It is as though his anger and resentment and desire
for revenge is being harnessed by invisible hands, trying to turn a movie
of violence into one of non-violence. It frustrates the viewer
who, sitting on the edge of his her seat, tires of not hearing bones
crunch or heads snap or bullets splatter into evil flesh.
Even the CIA bad/good guy doesn't work.
When they blast the Terrorist's secret hideout, the attack smacks of the
massacre scene from Little Big Man, when Dustin Hoffman retells the horror
of Calvary attacking innocent women and children.
enter into the film where you
think they will be developed to add to Arnie's character, only to
disappear before they blossom, or to be shot by the bad guy terrorist,
further frustrating one's sense of story-building for terse, Terroristic
film editing and complacent script writing.
By the end of the movie, I was feeling more
empathy for the Terrorists than for the revengeful superhero. I
almost wanted them to kill Arnie for making such a terrible movie.
I wanted there to be a message not a mess.
I wanted to vicariously relate to Arnie's character as a Mr.
SuperVigilance, seeking revenge for us all, able to jump tall buildings in
a single leap. Instead, he was glob of grunts and snarls, with
no sting. He was trapped in a script that anyone in Script 101 might
have written, and directed with the shallowness of a bin Laden video tape
bragging about the destruction of the Twin Towers.
I found myself clutching the arms of the seat,
restraining myself from leaving. I made noises. I heard
people around me grumbling, shifting in their seats.
At the predictable ending everyone knew was coming, and
most glad it came so they could urinate or go get a drink, or stop by
BlockBuster for a good movie, no one applauded, no one cheered. It
was the great letdown ending to a letdown movie.
It reminded me that Terrorism on the screen doesn't
make a movie. To display a bunch of straw characters acting out
straw Terrorism acts provides no entertainment. There was no
conflict, no empathy, no embracing of good versus evil, of the struggle
for right to overpower wrong, or, worse, for the justice to be
served to the unjust.
It was summed up by the man sitting next to my
wife who stood up after the movie and barked to the empty air of the
theater--"what the hell was that all about?"
To Diary--Feb.9--The Indians & Terrorists
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