Collateral

"Very Good"

Collateral Review


There are two kinds of roller coasters. The most modern kind uses maglev technology to take you from 0 to 100mph in a matter of seconds. The old-school kind slowly creeps you up an incline before letting gravity pull you down at sickening speeds. Collateral is definitely the latter, and actually delivers more in the build-up than the plummet.

Cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) is having an ordinary night until he picks up Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith). They have a pleasant, interesting conversation, which director Michael Mann lets unfold at a natural, almost seductive pace. When they finally part ways, you feel as if you've watched a short romantic comedy. Enter Vincent (Tom Cruise).

Vincent, Max's next fare, engages him in an equally amusing conversation but suddenly offers him an unusual proposition. He'll give Max $600 to take him to all his appointments that night. What Max doesn't know when he reluctantly accepts is that Vincent's "appointments" are all targets he's been hired to kill. When a dead body lands on Max's cab minutes later, he catches on.

For the rest of the night, Vincent and Max subtly work on each other. Vincent slowly begins to grow attached to Max as Max comes out of his shell and faces certain realities about himself and his aspirations. When Vincent coaches Max through telling off his boss, you can tell that both characters are enjoying it a little more than they probably should.

The sharp dialogue by Stuart Beattie and the focused performances of Cruise and Foxx prevent the proceedings from deteriorating into Assassin Eye for the Law-Abiding Guy. Foxx portrays Max's affable exterior as concealing a reservoir of denial and insecurity. It makes his transformation into someone who could possibly challenge Vincent all the more interesting to watch. Cruise's performance, while not earth-shattering, certainly provides an adequate foil for Foxx, making their interplay one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film. (If you really want to see Tom Cruise play a villain, however, rent Magnolia.)

Mann's choices, it turns out, are the most satisfying to watch. His reliance on digital video for the lion's share of the footage is a revelation. Watching this, you wonder why he didn't also use the medium for Heat and The Insider, which likewise evoked a gritty, documentary feel. Downtown L.A. never looked so hollow.

Mann's other strength here is pace. He understands the value of the old-school roller coaster. We care far more about Max's predicament after watching some very human moments between him and Annie before the inhuman Vincent takes control. Even once the ride begins, Mann's smart enough to vary up the rhythm. No two of Vincent's appointments are the same. Like jazz (an oft discussed topic in the film) Mann keeps taking us in directions we don't expect. The script keeps up with him until the final act.

As we wind down to the inevitable confrontation between Max and Vincent, the script begins to sound much more like classical than jazz. The same tired contrivances from a hundred other thrillers pop up to isolate the characters in such a way as to create a standard action finale. It's not an incompetent climax, per se; it's just not nearly as interesting, or even as well written, as what's come before.

In spite of a somewhat disappointing conclusion, Collateral still delivers on several levels. It allows Jamie Foxx to show us that the acting chops he displayed in Ali weren't a fluke. It allows Tom Cruise to check off "soulless assassin" on his list of roles to play. And it allows Michael Mann to show us that it's not the kind of camera but the artist who wields it that makes all the difference.

What do you mean we ran out of Dewar's?



Collateral

Facts and Figures

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th August 2004

Box Office USA: $100.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $100M

Budget: $65M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Parkes/MacDonald Productions, Edge City

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 196 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Vincent, as Max, Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie, as Fanning, as Pedrosa, as Richard Weidner, Irma P. Hall as Ida, as Daniel, as Traffic Cop #1, Klea Scott as Fed #1, as Young Professional Man, as Young Professional Woman, as Felix, as Paco, Jamie McBride as Traffic Cop #2, Ken Waters as FBI Agent, Charlie E. Schmidt as FBI Agent, as Fever Bouncer, Thomas Rosales, Jr. as Ramone, as Guy at the airport

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

Advertisement
The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.