Arnold Schwarzenegger charged back on to America's screens this weekend with a film that not everyone wants to see because of the echoes with recent – all too real – events. He plays a fireman whose wife and son are killed when foreign terrorists blow up a Los Angeles office building, engulfing it in balls of fire.
Warner Brothers had planned to release the film, Collateral Damage, in early October, but delayed it until this month in the wake of 11 September. Some in the industry, which is preparing for the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, are now wishing out loud that the studio had consigned it to oblivion.
Most enraged are New York firemen, who at the World Trade Centre endured an experience more fearful than anything the most fevered studio could imagine. It did not help that New York's former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, got top billing at the film's Manhattan premiere on last week.
Because most of its action involves Mr Schwarzenegger rampaging through the hills of Colombia, seeking revenge on the terrorist who wiped out his family, it has also enraged activists who point out that not all Colombians are killers.
Nor are the critics stampeding to praise the film. "Its preposterous contrivances and ludicrous implausibilities make it look like the very definition of puerile Hollywood superstar fantasy in the present real-world context," smouldered Todd McCarthy, chief critic at Variety. He suggests that the British screenwriters, David and Peter Griffiths, could have written the script "when they were 12 years old".
Mr Giuliani's appearance at the New York premiere was questioned because the studio said it was "in association with the Twin Towers Fund". The ex-mayor founded the fund last year to help families of the firefighters who died. "It saddens us any time a tragedy is used to promote a movie," complained Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers' Association.
The studio insisted last week that the film had received a positive response at test screenings. It is now for the public to pass judgement.Reuse content