|Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller|
|DreamWorks || R - 120 minutes || August 6, 2004|
|Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2004-08-09|
Writer(s): Stuart Bettie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill
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2004, so far, has been a funny year. There were some films this year that I expected to blow me away..and they didn't. Van Helsing for example was pretty weak. While I liked Hellboy quite a bit, it suffers upon subsequent viewings. On the other hand, the films that surprised me and that i've ended up loving the most, were those that I had little to no anticipation for whatsoever. Mean Girls was a movie I had 0 interest in, saw, and loved. I, Robot was a movie I knew I'd go see, but never expected it to be the home run that it ended up being. Where does Collateral fit in? Unexpectantly for me, right alongside the other surprises that I've loved this year.
Collateral's plot is fairly simple. Jaime Foxx stars as Max, an average joe cabbie who's running his nightly routine of picking up and dropping off passengers when he picks up. . . well, someone you wouldn't want to pick up. Max picks up a man going by the nomenclature of Vincent (Tom Cruise), an hired hitman-type, who forces Max to drive him and accompany him along on several missions to take out various people that he's been hired to kill. What follows ia a slick, edge of your seat thriller that never lets you catch your breath, is smart, AND entertains all at the same time.
As I said, Collateral is a very simple film but that simplicity is it's biggest gift. All of the dialogue (amazingly well written by Stuart Beattie, who was a writer on Pirates of the Carribean), is strikingly realistic. There's not one moment in the film where characters sound like they're just characters in a film. They're all very real.
Also real is the performances by Cruise and Foxx. Again, Cruise still isn't gonna win an Oscar but his performance here is far superior to his last (The Last Samurai). His Max is cold and cruel and you never for a second doubt his motives or his villainous nature. Foxx is also great here. Jaime Foxx is easily one of the most underappreciated actors working today. Like his performances in Any Given Sunday and the soon to be released Ray (which he I hope he wins an Oscar for. The film is very good but his performance is even better), this film is another major stepping-stone for him in advancing up the Hollywood ladder. As far as I’m concerned, he's already there.
Although their roles are much smaller in the film, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo are also great here and their parts never hindered the main plot thread of Cruise/Foxx.
Michael Mann's on the top of his game here direction wise. Of particular greatness is the "Club Fever" scene. The way it was shot was simply masterful and it's hands down my favorite scene in the movie (among a few others).
I've heard some people say the film ends kind of predictably but I disagree. Although I had a feeling about Pinkett-Smith's ultimate role to play in the film, I never saw the way it was executed coming. Collateral is a thriller of the highest caliber that doesn't disappoint. Highly recommended.