Dir: Michael Mann. 2004. Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo. Mystery.

Max (Foxx) is a taxi driver with big dreams. Vincent (Cruise) is a freelance killer on a business trip to clean house. Tensions mount up when Vincent steps foot in Max’s cab, using him as his chauffer on a nightlong killing spree.

Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) is one of the true kings of crime cinema and Collateral may be his most precise and exact tale. With the best pacing of any of his films, Mann makes great use of High-Def cameras to give the nighttime cityscape of Los Angeles a unique and dream like aesthetic.

Stuart Beattie’s script is smart, stylish and raw. The characters are truthful and their interactions come across as genuine. The editing of all these events within the span of one night makes great use of the compression of time. The score by James Newton Howard is beautifully haunting and really adds momentum to the action. There are few better directors than Mann at using music to underlay emotional conflicts within his characters.

Jamie Foxx (The Kingdom) is perfectly cast as Max. A good person who minds his own business until he becomes “collateral” in Vincent’s night of mass murder -- just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jade Pinkett-Smith (The Women) brings beauty and weight to the role of Annie—a strong willed but sometimes self-doubting federal attorney who is about to prosecute the biggest case of her career.

The chemistry between Foxx and Smith is gentle and truthful as they feel each other out on a trip from the airport to downtown. You can feel them falling in love in those first few minutes as they drive across the city.

As the steely cold-blooded Vincent, Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) delivers one of his finest performances. Styled like a silver fox, he carries himself with a super cool attitude and a boiling animalistic rage always on the verge of spilling over. The fine line between calm and fury makes Vincent one of the memorable contract killer of the Silver Screen.

Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac) is solid in one of his most masculine roles as a slick streetwise homicide detective who only cares about finding the truth, at any cost.

Watch for a cameo from Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) as a drug lord in one of the best scenes of the film. Vincent forces Max to pretend to be him in order to acquire a new hit list from his employers. There is an incredible turn in the scene, when Foxx goes from playing Max to playing Tom Cruise as Vincent. Foxx’s skill as a mimic that won him Best Actor (as Ray Charles) is clearly evident in how well he captures his co-star’s mannerisms and attitude.

Collateral is a film that has edge, intelligence and great mood. Any fan of the crime genre should check it out. You won’t be disappointed.


Collateral was nominated for 2 Oscars:  Best Supporting Actor (Jamie Foxx) and Best Editing.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Sep 13, 2008 3:00pm
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