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 give naturalistic and psychologically complex performances. The story, about a cab driver who is forced to drive a hitman around the city of Los Angeles while he assassinates his targets, is quite literally driven by its vividly realized characters. These characters, who are three-dimensional and feel almost familiar, are brought to life by an all-star cast.
The cast includes Tom Cruise as Vincent, Jamie Foxx as Max, Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie, and Mark Ruffalo as Detective Fanning. Each member of the cast gives a great performance, especially Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo, who aren't what would be considered the main characters and yet they create memorable personas. But the real scene-stealers are the performances of Foxx and Cruise, whose characters are dynamic despite being polar opposites.
Vincent is a slickly dressed, cold and calculating hitman, who has buried his emotions for years in order to make himself a more efficient killer. Max is an obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist of a cabdriver, who has allowed his lifelong dreams to slip by because he lacks the confidence and the initiative to make them a reality. But on one fateful night, these two strangers' lives will collide and neither will be the same. When Vincent asks Max if he will drive him around the city while he makes five stops, Max is at first hesitant and unsure... until Vincent offers him $700. But during their first stop, while Vincent is inside of an apartment complex, a body falls from the balcony and comes crashing down onto the roof of Max's cab. It immediately becomes clear that Vincent has killed the man and Max knows that he has now essentially become a hostage. As Max is forced to drive Vincent to his remaining stops while Vincent assassinates his targets, the two share conversations and begin to see each other for who and what they truly are. This has an effect on the both of them, though a different effect. As Max becomes more assertive and confident, Vincent is reintroduced to his more human side. Meanwhile a narcotics detective named Fanning is tracking down Vincent because he knows that someone's responsible for the deaths of certain witnesses for the prosecution of a major drug trafficker named Felix. And it is Felix that has hired Vincent to eliminate these witnesses. It's not long before the FBI becomes involved and they believe that Max is the killer, not Vincent who they don't even know exists. Soon Max is angered by Vincent's general disregard for life and he is empowered by the realization that he does have some control over what happens to him. When Max discovers that Vincent's final target is a beautiful criminal prosecutor named Annie, who Max had befriended earlier in the evening, Max is forced to race Vincent to save her. Max, the passive cabbie is pitted against Vincent, the sociopathic contract killer. Yet on this night anything can happen.
Collateral gave Michael Mann the unique opportunity of shooting a film in Los Angeles after dark and he delighted in showing audiences a side to the city that they may not have known existed before. Using, predominantly, a Hi Def digital camera, he creates a vision of Los Angeles that is simultaneously stark, oppressive, beautiful, and colorful. Mann also exposes the economic differences and the cultural diversity of L.A., which gives the film a different flavor from other films that have shot there.
Though highly stylized and at times a little predictable, Collateralis one of the best suspense films of the past decade. The reason being that it's rare to have such naturalistic actors playing such believable characters while they are trapped in the most extraordinary of circumstances. This is where Mann excels as a filmmaker, telling stories that are somewhat far-fetched and yet it doesn't matter because as an audience we have a sincere emotional investment in the characters. As we watch Max and Vincent confide in each other, and as we see them both become torn by internal conflict, we can't help but empathize with their plights and wonder, "What would I do in that situation?"
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: Jamie Fax, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tom Cruise. Cons: Ending 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 … 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