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Overall Rating
3.66

Awesome: 24.47%
Worth A Look40.43%
Just Average: 16.49%
Pretty Crappy: 14.36%
Sucks: 4.26%

15 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Collateral
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by Jack Sommersby

"Caustic 'Collateral'"
2 stars

Well, the poster certainly looks super-cool!

In director Michael Mann's Los Angeles crime tale Collateral, Tom Cruise gives a consistently interesting performance as a professional hit man who kidnaps a taxi driver and forces him to take him around the city while dispatching witnesses on the eve of an important criminal trial. The character is known only as Vincent, and he looks like your everyday well-dressed businessman with a briefcase and nondescript demeanor; he's a no-frills type who sees his job as no different than any stockbroker's or accountant's -- his only concern is getting the job done as efficiently as possible. With his hair attractively colored pepper gray with a natty five-o'-clock-shadow beard, Cruise burrows inside the character and stays there; for one of the few times in his career he works within a defined dramatic parameter without any extroverted movie-star baggage seeping through. Vincent is calm and collective, and you can see why he's lasted so long in his profession -- he doesn't harbor any conscience or remorse in carrying out his duties, which keeps him alert and focused, and therefore invulnerable to mistakes from taking foolhardy chances. He's exactly the kind of guy you'd want setting up an offshore tax haven in the Cayman Islands. Suffice to say, he's not a character a lot of big-name Hollywood stars would be keen to play because there aren't a whole lot of behavioral levels to him, and even fewer emotional ones; and it's to Cruise's credit that he took on the role for the sheer challenge of making Vincent vivid and captivating in a totally understated way -- he pulls off the difficult task of expressively conveying inexpressiveness. Like Denzel Washington, Cruise has charisma to burn but isn't the most resourceful thespian to grace the silver screen; he usually fares best in undemanding genre roles that don't ask a whole lot of him. That's what made him perfect as the talented football player in the superb high-school drama All the Right Moves and the ambitious bartender in the otherwise-mediocre Cocktail; it's also what made him inadequate in more challenging roles as the dimwitted pool player in The Color of Money and the anti-war activist in Born on the Fourth of July. As Vincent, he's positively spot-on from start to finish; he has such an ironclad grasp on this well-reasoned sociopath that we can sit back and take pleasure in watching an actor who knows exactly what he's doing. It was a risky casting decision on the part of Mann, who's usually acute in selecting just the right actors; and for those who saw his other L.A. crime story, the tendentious Heat, Vincent's physical and dramatic resemblances to Robert De Niro's amoral master thief Neil McCauley are more than readily apparent -- they're a couple of doppelgangers effortlessly running the cops around in circles in the City of Angels while most of the citizenry are boringly abiding by law and order.

Unfortunately, Collateral, after a superb first half, isn't up to Cruise's level. The screenwriter, Stuart Beattie, takes his time in setting up an involving story and establishing well-rounded characters, and sticking to a set of rules so we feel we're in store for a thinking-person's action movie. But eventually the reasonably-plausible gives way to the howlingly-improbable as if Beattie had undergone a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation hell-bent on sabotaging the promising proceedings. Where Vincent starts out methodical and meticulous in carrying out his deeds, calmly entering and exiting the murder scenes like a ghost, for no discernible reason he starts eliminating the rest of witnesses in highly-populated public places, thus not only giving people a clear look at his face but causing uncouth ruckuses that bring the police running, which, of course, is a big no-no for any hit man. And after some fascinating rapport between Vincent and Jamie Foxx's cabbie Max (there's a standout bit where the villain asks the hero why he should care about a couple of unknown stiffs in light of his disengagement over the thousands of deaths at Rwanda), Beattie goes Psych 101 on us in having Max start probing Vincent over a possible troubled childhood, and the air goes right out of the movie. It's quite the insult to Cruise who's chosen not to break into cliche just so Beattie can go and do just that. The substandard contextual value in no way warrants a two-hour running time: it would have worked far better had a half-hour been shaved so the plot motor could hum as swiftly as Vincent. And why, pray tell, aren't the witnesses under protective custody before testifying against a big-time drug kingpin? Because there wouldn't be a movie, obviously. Apparently, Mann thought he could dress everything up with his usual brand of luscious visuals to disguise the gaping logic loopholes; and though he's fashioned an admittedly smashing-looking production -- director of photography Dion Bebe, employing a new brand of digital camera that penetrates darkness with stunning clarity, gives the city quite the gleaming sheen -- his penchant for narrative drive completely escapes him here. Collateral is a sluggish work that tries working you over rather than pleasurably working on you, which was far from the case with Mann's Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans and The Insider. Aside from Cruise, the only forceful contribution comes from the marvelous Mark Ruffalo, playing the only policeman around who has an intelligent head on his shoulders while the rest of the force bumbles about like the Keystone Cops. His role isn't much, but he gets a real relationship going with the audience and gives the movie some much-needed charge in just a few scenes. Regrettably, he hasn't any dialogue exchanges with Cruise, which certainly would've livened things up. (Foxx is OK but lacks variety in big roles.) In the end, they escape being collateral damage; if only the same could be said for this disappointing misfire of a movie.

While it's preferable to Mann's "The Keep" and "Ali", it's still nothing for 'ol Michael to write home about.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10300&reviewer=327
originally posted: 09/04/11 14:06:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell very good cruise & foxx are great 4 stars
1/24/10 Jeff Great film. 5 stars
8/09/09 Jeff Wilder Well-made and involving. Only the interminable ending keeps me from giving it 5 stars. 4 stars
2/04/09 Faraz J Boring movie. Who cares about the acting if the movie is boring. Crap. 3 stars
12/28/08 Samantha Pruitt boring ass movie, fell asleep during it, stupid plot! 1 stars
10/31/08 ldavies I don't understand the 5 star ratings, Not that special. 3 stars
8/11/08 Shaun Wallner Cruise does it again! 5 stars
4/22/08 Quigley Very well-made thriller. Foxx, Cruise and Mann do brilliant work here. 5 stars
4/15/08 Jack Sommersby Stupid script and numerous implausibilities mar this good-looking crima drama. 2 stars
11/27/07 Vincent I dare to say this's Mann's best. needs to be seen more than once to really appreciate it 5 stars
11/19/07 Jose Luis Mann got another masterpiece. Very enjoyable film, great perfomances 5 stars
5/13/07 mb Adrenalin, Murders, Some Charm 4 stars
3/27/07 Double M Just brilliant.. Cruise was perfect in a surprising role and was snubbed of an oscar nom. 5 stars
3/21/07 ES That's a good movie right there 4 stars
2/08/07 R.W.Welch Contrived but entertaining. Script has some spark to it. 4 stars
2/06/07 AJ Muller The Mann has done it yet again. Smart, slick, and wholly badass. 5 stars
1/30/07 William Boyle Spectacular nonsense. Cruise is like a Terminator with a screw loose. 4 stars
1/26/07 Tamara D. Leonard Boring! 1 stars
1/23/07 MP Bartley A snappy, brisk thriller. Direction doesn't lag and Cruise is icily excellent. 4 stars
11/03/06 mg I am 43 and this is the BEST movie I have ever seen in my life. Positive & motivational 5 stars
10/21/06 David Pollastrini very good 3 stars
4/02/06 JRE it's overrated but has lot's of action and great acting 4 stars
3/10/06 Dillon Top-notch action drama. Cruise is in top form and Foxx breaks through. 5 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands One of greatest recent suspense films. 5 stars
12/21/05 steve newman Excellent film - the ending was predictable 4 stars
11/18/05 Chris Barrett Cruise Should Have Got An Oscar Nomination. Simply Brilliant. Mann's 2nd Best To Heat 5 stars
10/18/05 yj yyjyytn 1 stars
9/23/05 Jonathon Holmes one of the 10 best films of the year 5 stars
7/18/05 leeyicia m i loved this movie. i love anything with jamie foxx is in. 5 stars
7/10/05 slanes It was okay, I thought it would be a lot betterfrom all the hype. 3 stars
5/24/05 Casey Becher Pretty good Tom Cruise movie, but not as good as Mission Impossible. 4 stars
5/07/05 Who am I? This aint bad at all, nice look and feel although there were some misses along the way 4 stars
4/08/05 Monster W. Kung "Good guy stuck with bad guy" piece of crap, with laughably absurd action sequences. 1 stars
3/27/05 Charlie Tom's best! A great movie! 5 stars
3/26/05 Karen I hated it 1 stars
3/12/05 Fabr Nothing special. Nothing amazing in it 3 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Tom was surprisingly good as a bad guy, but Jamie stoled it! 4 stars
2/06/05 Phil M. Aficionado What David Hollands said. Boring, actually; I slept through parts of it. 2 stars
2/01/05 lisa w This one had me hooked from minute one, just something about it. Fab Cast 5 stars
1/31/05 Christy Harris Loved these guys! Great car chases! 4 stars
1/29/05 Dan Interesting Movie... 4 stars
1/29/05 sam bonner interesting mix of brutal action and dime store existential philosophy 4 stars
1/16/05 Landshark No, I shot him -- the bullets and the fall killed him. Maybe Mann's best. 5 stars
1/10/05 Lucas Stenz The worst Mann film yet; the wolf scene is hysterical! 2 stars
12/31/04 HL Cruise wacking bad guys and no remorse for killin' a cop..I don't think so! 2 stars
12/30/04 Tjalda L. Schiel Mann, you're Da Man. Cruise, forget being the hero, be the villain. 5 stars
12/29/04 Katie Evridge Not as much action as I thought. Much more psychological. Ok movie! 4 stars
12/28/04 Tom Ciorciari Much ado about Cruise in a buzzed flat top... 3 stars
12/27/04 efrain beautiful, unnerving, sad. awesome. 5 stars
12/27/04 mwildema A nice suprise. 4 stars
12/15/04 ad good job 4 stars
12/15/04 Rizal Malik One exciting ride that is addictive. Outstanding cast, direction, script and cinematography 5 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams my favorite movie of 2004 5 stars
12/06/04 Gazza J Fucking Champion! 5 stars
11/25/04 Shams Huque Mann is a legend. Cruise was pretty good! 5 stars
11/07/04 John Bale Possibly the best hitman film since The Professional, Cruise heads a good cast. Suspenseful 5 stars
11/04/04 Dean Nice Camera angles 4 stars
11/03/04 Lee Graham Dark and atmospheric. Best performance I've seen by Cruise. 5 stars
10/25/04 ALDO Nothing special....too much shit chat...the last 30 mins is ok 3 stars
10/23/04 Luke A real masterpice, in my opinion! 5 stars
10/22/04 Denise really good 5 stars
10/21/04 georgia visually fantastic but a dud script 2 stars
10/21/04 Monday Morning L.A.- A small town...you bump into the same people a lot. Ya, right, but still an OK film. 3 stars
10/19/04 Susan L. Awesome movie. 4 stars
10/16/04 Archanist_101 One of Micheal Mann's best yet... Too bad he didnt hire Crowe & Sandler 5 stars
10/09/04 Ingo Quite ok, but to many "What the hell?"... 3 stars
9/26/04 ALBERT GREAT BRUCE MCGILL 5 stars
9/26/04 Graham Grip those armrests. Grip 'em hard. 5 stars
9/11/04 y2mckay Cruise and Foxx tolerable, J.P. Smith HOT, laggy first half but entertains in the end. 4 stars
8/30/04 Karl story and action a little hard to take 2 stars
8/28/04 Kimesabi A great assassin flick unfortunately assassinated in the last 5 minutes. 5 stars
8/27/04 Tristynn Pretty far fetched. Absolutly no character development. A real let down. 2 stars
8/24/04 Agent Sands By far Mann's best movie, and the best supense thriller in the past 2 years. 5 stars
8/16/04 Joe Kim Great Movie! 5 stars
8/16/04 zer0 falls completely apart halfway through, and the ending is the worst I've ever seen 2 stars
8/16/04 ownerofdajoint an incredibly tight thriller /cruise and foxx are as good here as ever..WOW ! 5 stars
8/15/04 malcolm excellent 'til the last 3 mins. no way a cab driver and lawyer beat a pro killer 4 stars
8/14/04 John a lame script full of ridiculous plot holes but expertly put together by Michael Mann 3 stars
8/14/04 Melissa Just saw it, and loved it! Cruise rocks as a bad guy. 5 stars
8/14/04 Peter James Cruise and Foxx have undeniable chemistry 5 stars
8/14/04 Gray lame! 1 stars
8/14/04 Nikolai Tofu Cruise gives Foxx some conversation instead of muttering to himself for 2 hours 2 stars
8/13/04 Uncle Phucker Mann failed with Ali. But he's getting closer to Heat and Thief days. Not as good as Heat.. 4 stars
8/12/04 McGraw Thrilling, tense, and WONDERFULLY intelligent. 5 stars
8/09/04 arlene dolen michael mann must be a great quentin tarantino fan. it's just that mann got it all wrong. 3 stars
8/09/04 Brian Halley Complete crap 1 stars
8/09/04 wintermute well painted scenes and stunning lighting 5 stars
8/09/04 Mike V Michael Mann meets Brian Depalma and it kicks ass! 5 stars
8/08/04 roddick_luva this movie was good but really draggy 4 stars
8/07/04 sarah the bearah has netflix finally become a verb? 4 stars
8/07/04 rory aweful 1 stars
8/07/04 ajay When did Jamie Foxx become an "actor"?? (ps, Held Up was funny, netflix it) 4 stars
8/07/04 Christina You guys are insane if you didnt like this 5 stars
8/07/04 KingNeutron Vincent is just too one-dimensional. Nothing earth-shattering here, but worth matinee. 3 stars
8/07/04 Brad I loved it. Good job by Jamie Foxx (and Cruise of course) 5 stars
8/06/04 Rose Doub exciting and able to keep the viewer interested and in suspense to the end 4 stars
8/06/04 Elaine Perrone Collateral: A/K/A YET Another 48HRS. Meh. 3 stars
8/03/04 Ray Ok 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Oct-2004


Directed by
  Michael Mann

Written by
  Stuart Beattie

Cast
  Tom Cruise
  Jamie Foxx
  Jada Pinkett Smith
  Mark Ruffalo
  Peter Berg
  Bruce McGill



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