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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.87%
Worth A Look40.21%
Just Average: 16.4%
Pretty Crappy: 14.29%
Sucks: 4.23%

15 reviews, 99 user ratings

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by Tom Ciorciari

"Just another night in L.A."
3 stars

Though he might be a swell guy and rescuer of folks-in-peril on the high seas in the real world, the one trait most consistently lacking in Tom Cruise’s film performances has been sincerity. Therefore his films can be divided into three separate categories: Those in which his smug, look-at-me persona is a plus (“Rain Man”, “Magnolia”), those in which it is a hindrance (“Eyes Wide Shut”, “Vanilla Sky”) and those in which it is mysteriously in absence (“Jerry Maguire”, “Minority Report”). And, to be honest, for every “The Firm” there are four or five “Last Samurai”s lurking in his resumé. Happily, Cruise’s work in the new Michael Mann thriller/buddy flick “Collateral” falls firmly into the first category.

Max (Jamie Foxx) is a man with a plan. Unfortunately, this plan has been gestating for some 12 years and he’s still not ready to make a move. In the meantime he’s driving a hack through the neon-lit steel and glass nighttime of L.A. Meticulous, conscientious, his über-cabbie is truly not to be believed, unless you’ve never actually been inside a cab in a major metropolitan center. Foxx manages to make Max sweet and enduring despite the by-the-numbers dialogue and plotting he’s forced to follow, and his is the performance that holds Collateral together.

Enter in Max’s life Vincent (Cruise) a contract killer with only twelve or so hours to make five hits before hopping on a 6 a.m. flight out of there. Wearing a formfitting silver suit, a two-day growth of beard and what looks like Al Pacino’s hairpiece from The Godfather Pt. III, Cruise’s Vincent does cut an iconic figure, seemingly stitched together of equal parts 80’s hedonist (is the stubble perhaps an in-joke reference to Mann’s “Miami Vice” days?), 60’s Rat pack slick and 30’s gangster (Bogie’s Duke Mantee comes to mind). To his credit, Cruise let’s his character breathe freely in the narrow narrative space afforded him by Stuart Beattie’s script.

The high concept of Collateral is that Vincent will pay Max $600 to chauffeur him around from one hit to the other, without Max’s being aware of their purpose. Of course, Vincent’s cover is blown when victim #1 drops from a window onto Max’s cab. Now at gun point, Max has no choice but to keep driving. Of course, any crime movie must have a cops-on-the-trail subplot and Collateral has one straight out of Subplots 101. Mark Ruffalo, who elevates his role far beyond what it deserves, plays Fanning, one of those gritty, undercover types who might never have existed were it not for Sidney Lumet’s Serpico. He’s onto Vincent, who has used this same m.o. before. He knows the single most overlooked tidbit in Beattie’s half-baked script: that once he’s done with his list Vincent will kill Max and pin the murders on him. This major plot point is only mentioned and/or referred to once and then apparently forgotten by all concerned - in front of, as well as, behind the camera.

Once in motion the movie moves along rather episodically, with Vincent and Max trading philosophies and “Movie Dialogue” as they drive from hit to hit. Had these scenes been scripted with some semblance of facility (just think what someone like Tarantino would do with this set up) they might have come across as something other than rote tv-movie filler. Unfortunately Stuart Beattie is no Quentin Tarantino.

The film’s highlight occurs when Vincent drags Max to a hit in a jazz club. Barry Shabaka Henley brings a spiritually weary nobility to his role as the almost-been trumpet player turned club manager. It is in the scene, with all three actors firing on all cylinders that we see the movie that might have been. That the scene takes place with all three seated and talking in soft voices around a table speaks volumes, for it is soon followed by the scene that Mann apparently thought would be the corker: a hectic, well-choreographed, but ultimately laughable shoot-out at a nightclub. Only a director of Michael Mann’s single-mindedness could make one scene both the visual and absurdity highlight. With strobes flickering, the music thumping, colored lights splaying reds and blues across the room, Vincent struts through he crowd blending about as well as a forty-year-old white guy with steel gray hair and clothing could be expected to. That he finds his target amid a dancing throng and a half dozen bodyguards and is able to escape, avoiding the feds who were lying in wait for him, and get Max out of there in one piece is truly what movie magic is all about. At this point the subplot concerning the law falls away and it feels almost as if we’ve entered a different film with Vincent on the hunt for his last victim, one whom we’ve met earlier and, considering the actor’s status and billing will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone over the age of 8.

Somewhere along the line Michael Mann has developed a reputation as a gritty, stylized filmmaker (a sort of West Coast Marty Scorsese), but I’ll be damned if I know why. With the sole exception of “The Insider”, his resumé is filled with almosts and coulda-beens (his most serious crime being the casting of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in “Heat” only to have them share the screen for ONE SHOT!). There are interesting touches (Vincent’s deadpan humor) and visuals (the use of glass as a psychological barrier that can be removed, smashed or hidden behind), and Jamie Foxx shows that his work in “Any Given Sunday” and "Ali" was no luck-out: he is the real deal, and his turn as Ray Charles this fall should propel him into the stratosphere, but ultimately “Collateral” is nothing more than another crime movie, one whose sole hook is that “Tom Cruise plays a bad guy”. Now, imagine if Mann had cast DeNiro and Pacino in THIS film. Okay, now add a star.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10300&reviewer=384
originally posted: 10/16/04 18:00:51
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/17/18 anton really good movie, except for some plotholes. 5 stars
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 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
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  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Michael Mann

Written by
  Stuart Beattie

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

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