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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 David Cornelius

"This is what many thrillers could only hope to be."
5 stars

There is a poetry to Michael Mann’s “Collateral,” and poetry is not something you usually find in your suspense thrillers. But then, “Collateral” is not, as most thrillers are, about what happens; it’s about the people to whom things happen. The plot is secondary here. This is a film that follows how people connect and react under the most unusual of events.

The poetry comes from both Mann’s impeccable direction and from Stuart Beattie’s ingenious script. This is a film about rhythms - the pace of the city night, of dialogue between two men disconnected from the world they inhabit. Here’s a film that finds in its timing a place to stop just so we can watch a few stray coyotes wander through the streets of Los Angeles. Scenes like this add a haunting, dreamlike quality to the work. It’s a quality that grabs us far more than your usual suspenser.

Beattie’s story (originally called “The Last Domino,” a title I very much prefer over the more generic one it now has) sounds at first to be your run-of-the-mill high concept picture: Max (Jaime Foxx), a cabbie working the night shift, picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), who offers six hundred dollars to be his personal driver for the night. We then learn that Vincent is a hitman, and Max is in effect his hostage, being forced to take Vincent to all of his kills.

Your ordinary Hollywood production would take this premise and spin it into a fast-paced action film filled with car chases and shoot-outs. And yes, we do get shoot-outs, and even one big car stunt, but Beattie takes his story were we do not expect. He softens the focus on the story - the subplot featuring the cop (Mark Ruffalo) on Vincent’s tail is given low priority - and instead zooms in on the strange relationship between Max and Vincent. For it is not the violence of the night that, we assume, will change Max forever, but the talks with Vincent, who bluntly tells him to wake up, that driving a cab for twelve years is no longer a “temporary” thing, that Max’s pipe dreams of a better career are just a fantasy.

Some have criticized the script (and Foxx’s performance) for having Max change too abruptly, from timid to confident, in the middle of the film. But this ignores two things. First, Vincent’s “wake up” chats do exactly that - they wake Max up from his haze, bringing his head out of the clouds and into a harsh reality; now living in the present, Max is able to finally take charge in his life.

Second, it overlooks Foxx’s incredibly nuanced performance. Throughout the film, Foxx is always working on multiple levels. There are scenes in which he’s playing it cool... yet underneath, Max is in a state of shock. One can read the sequence in which he’s forced to claim he’s Vincent as Max suddenly being a badass... unless you see the fear bubbling behind Foxx’s eyes, and we realize that this is all an act, no matter how convincing.

Foxx has given us fine, interesting performances before (his sharp turns in “Any Given Sunday” and “Breakin’ All the Rules” saved what could have otherwise wound up as failures), but his role in “Collateral” is his breakthrough moment, when we as an audience finally see him as a brilliant actor. He lends to the film an unexpected everyman quality, and every time he appears on screen here, the movie simply crackles. (Cruise, for his part, is no slouch either; his performance as Vincent continues the chain of darker, more complex roles in which he’s been experimenting these past several years. His Vincent is a hypnotic, fascinating blend of confidence and coldness, a fantastic bit of work. Still, this is Foxx’s show all the way. You can’t take your eyes off the guy the entire time.)

All this said, the most fascinating moments in “Collateral” comes not from any one particular bit of acting, but from two unexpected breaks in the story. As the night rolls on, we suddenly find ourselves in a hospital, visiting Max’s ailing mother (Irma P. Hall). Or in a nightclub, with Vincent sitting down with the club owner (Barry Shabaka Henley) and hearing a tale about a long ago meeting with Miles Davis. When we come to these points in the film, we suddenly realize that this is a story taking its own unique path, and we simply do not know where the film will take us next.

This sensation adds to the dreamlike (not quite nightmarish) feel of the movie. Even in the final act, when we return to slightly more traditional action, it all seems so otherworldly. Beattie’s drifting screenplay, Mann’s camera trickery (the movie was filmed in hi-def video, bringing out the darker shades of the night while adding a rougher visual quality), and James Newton Howard’s eerie score combine to lift the experience of watching “Collateral” into something far more engaging than we ever could have wanted or expected. We thought we would get just some action thriller. What we got was a vivid dreamscape, an intelligent character piece, and one of the best films of the year.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10300&reviewer=392
originally posted: 12/20/04 20:24:49
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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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