Crash Movie Review
An impressive ensemble cast lends strong character to acultural cross-section of Los Angeles denizens who are connected to eachother through crime, corruption, obligation, indignation and chance overa two-day period. The most powerful storyline features Matt Dillon andRyan Phillippe as beat cops -- one jaded and abusive, the other fresh andidealistic -- who pull over and harass (much to Phillippe's dismay) a blackyuppie couple (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton) because the SUV they'redriving vaguely fits the description of a carjacked vehicle.
Within 24 hours, these characters all cross paths againin separate incidents of incredibly high tension that challenge both theprejudices that have formed between them and the conclusions we've beenled to as an audience.
Although they do not meet again, similarly potent table-turningand judgment-testing events occur in the lives of the actual carjackers(Larenz Tate and rapper Ludacris, whose character is ironically obsessedwith being stereotyped) and their victims, an ambitious district attorneyand his uptight wife (played with depth and conviction by Brendan Fraserand Sandra Bullock).
These four are, in turn, connected through other eventsto a young Hispanic locksmith (Michael Pena) desperately trying to makea better life for his 5-year-old daughter after moving out of a crime-riddenneighborhood, and to a struggling Iranian shopkeeper (Shaun Toub) desperatelyseeking to lay blame for the vandalization of his convenience store, andto a pair of internal affairs detectives (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito),whose lives and jobs are complicated by politics, tested principles andpersonal secrets.
The emotional complexity and intricate, intimate narrativeof these stories defy simple summary, but suffice it to say writer andfirst-time director Paul Haggis ("MillionDollar Baby") lays bare many social andpsychological issues that generally get swept under the rug of the Americanconsciousness. The film doesn't just conjure up racially charged confrontations,but also shows almost subliminally how passive prejudice and pre-conceivednotions are often prevalent in simple day-to-day life.
The multifaceted, uniformly compelling performances --most notably from Howard, Newton and Bullock (whose gift for drama hasbeen overshadowed by her frivolous comedies) -- help personify these charactersas emblematic and familiar while being anything but archetypal. CinematographerJames Muro also contributes significantly to the film's visceral naturewith well-chosen, emotion-heightening moments of hand-held and point-of-viewcamerawork.
"Crash" is not a film that will change the worldor be permanently emblazoned on your mind. But it does get at the simpletruths of racial discord in society in a way that is absorbing, intelligent,thought-provoking, and yet entirely accessible.