Pros: Jamie Fax, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tom Cruise.
The Bottom Line: Despite this typical Hollywood ending Collateral showcases once again the genius of Mann; it a most engrossing thriller by a master of the genre.
Its not often that we are treated to a great character-based action movie, one in which the action is a mere appendage to the story; where the plot is build around the nuances of human interaction rather then exploding cars and whizzing bullets. Collateral is one such movie. The dynamic between big city cabbie and hired professional killer is at the heart of this tour of Los Angles, though to be sure there is action in abundance in the guise of great foot chases and fat moving gunfights. But its dynamic between cabbie and killer that make the film work and work well.
Directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Ali), with screenplay by Stuart Beattie, Collateral open as Max, a cab driver of eleven years portrayed by Jamie Foxx (Ali, The Players Club) picks up a fair Annie Ferrell portrayed by Jada Pinkett-Smith (Jasons Lyric, The Matrix Reloaded). Max is man stuck in a rut. He is a loner as far as we can tell, and he has long sought after dreams of opening his own limo service; someday. He is honest and polite, intelligent and caring, but he is shy and somewhat withdrawn, but Max knows people at least on the surface.
His fare Annie Farrell is a federal prosecutor working on a big case and while the cab winds its way through Los Angles, Max and Annie strike up an easy conversation which at the end of the ride earns Max Annies business card, and the promise of more fulfilling connection. As Max drops Annie off, he picks up Vincent portrayed with ice coolness with a tinge of evil by Tom Cruise (Top Gun, Rain Man) who initially identifies himself as a real estate broker with one night to close a major deal.
Vincent bribes ($700.00) and cajoles (its against company policy) Max into driving for him for the rest of the night, asking Max to take him to the five clients who must sign off on real estate deal. However at the first stop, a body falls from a nowhere onto Max's cab, shattering the front windshield. With sudden realization Max concludes that Vincent is a hired assassin, a professional contract killer who expects Max to drive him around LA while he murder one victim after another; we later learn that these people are witnesses in Annie case against, who else a Mexican drug kingpin. We also learn the Annie is Vincents last victim, much to Maxs chagrin.
And then there is Fanning portrayed Mark Ruffalo (Windtalkers, In The Cut), a LAPD detective who stumbles upon the scene of Vincent's first victim, who also happens to be his confidential informant. After more bodies connected to the same case start to appear, Fanning quickly figures out what is happening.
After the first killing the plot moves at a rapid pace and becomes more convoluted, and obvious question start to arise that beg plausible answers, such as: Why doesn't Vincent simply kill Max once he discovers Vincents true intentions? How can an unassuming cab driver hope to outwit a remorseless killer? Why didnt any alarms go off when Max broke that window in the federal building and then goes wondering through the place in search of Annie? And finally, how did he get into records room in time to save Annie when he has never been in the building before, and one must assume he needed an ID card to get in? Some of these questions are answered credibly, some are not.
Every performance here is excellent, but the movie really boils down to the tightly woven relationship between Max and Vincent. Cruise, a consummate actor breathed life into a character we would assume die a horrible death. But in Cruises hand I actually start to feel empathy for Vincent! Spooky! By acting normal Cruise creates a chilling character that is both detached and intone with the world around him. It is clear that he a student of human nature; he knows what makes people tick, but that study is evil in its intent.
Foxx who is best known as a comedian, has broken those bonds before and shown that he is a serious actor with a wide range. For example in Oliver Stones Any Given Sunday, Foxx gives a memorable dramatic performance as a quarterback, and again in Michael Manns Ali, he shines as Alis sidekick, his brother from the hood. His role here in Collateral is at first understated and then grows in complexity as the movie roles on.
As I touched on briefly above the action, although it takes a decided back seat to the human inaction in Collateral is anything but second rate. Cruises Vincent goes about his devilish business with quite aplomb, ruthless efficiently and without a shred of mercy or regret. The violence while at times in your face, as in the night clubs scene is not overblown, it isnt the movie is just a part of the movie.
Although I was at first disappointed in the ending; it was a bit too formulaic for me, a bit too happy, it didnt ruin the over all affect. A surprise or two would have been refreshing. Despite this typical Hollywood ending Collateral showcases once again the genius of Mann; it a most engrossing thriller by a master of the genre.
WARNING: This review may contain spoilers! Director Michael Mann (Manhunt and Heat) is well known for being a precise and methodical filmmaker. He often focuses on minute but important aspects of both the story and the characters therein, which has earned him the reputation of being an "actor's director". This unique interaction between Mann and his cast is exemplified in the suspense film, Collateral, which features an impressive cast of actors, all of whom … more
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, and Jada Pinkett-Smith all give top-notch performances. All of them are highly likeable characters; even Cruise who plays a hitman who appears unfeeling to his "victims," while being "caring" to others, especially Foxx. What I liked about this is that it is different from most thrillers. It doesn't use the same tired tricks that other thrillers seem to use. (when someone appears dead, he is dead). The movie never gets … more
Cab driver Max (expertly played by Jamie Foxx) has been driving a cab for twelve years in Los Angeles, saving up for his dream of creating Island Limousine service. He picks up a fare, Annie (Jada Pinkett-Smith) who is working late for the Prosecuting Attorney's office, preparing for a big trial the next day. When Max gives Annie a speedy ride and pleasant conversation, Annie impulsively hands him her business card. Max then picks up his next fare, a man named Vincent, who … more
Pros: Cruise and Fox, great drama. Cons: Drags a bit 3/4 in and ending may be a bit pat for some. The Bottom Line: A solid Drama that contains some of the best work ever by Cruise and Foxx and will entertain. Max (Jamie Foxx), is a man with ambition. He toils his evenings driving a cab in Los Angeles while dreaming of opening his own limo company and making it big. Sadly Max is also a man who is hampered by indecision, as he … more
Starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo Directed by Michael Mann Writer: Stuart Beattie 2004
Product Description Vincent is a cool calculating contract killer at the top of his game. Max is a cabbie with big dreams looking for his next fare. This fateful night max will transport Vincent on his next mission - one night 5 stops 5 hits & a perfect getaway. Together they find themselves in a non-stop race against time. Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 08/22/2006 Starring: Tom Cruise Jada Picket Smith Run time: 120 minutes Rating: R