COLLATERAL Movie Review
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Directed by: Michael Mann
Rated R (this review may contain spoilers)
I wake up, and there's this theme from a movie that's stuck in my head. It's moving and somewhat ethereal, and then I realize it's the ending music for a movie I've not seen in awhile, a movie that moved me significantly when I was just a teen in 2004. That movie is COLLATERAL. So, after a nice jog, I popped in the DVD and made a cup of French Roast coffee... and enjoyed both the coffee and the flick. I hope you enjoy my review. =]
Collateral is a remarkable action thriller from, in my opinion, one of the best directors ever... Michael Mann. The complexity of character developments and the plot itself kept me on the edge of my seat. The central thing -- for me -- about the film is Tom Cruise, playing an exceptionally cool character. Tom Cruise's performance in Collateral is gripping and is cold-blooded. His character is, plainly put, awesome – and a facade all too real. It’s his best character and his best performance out of any movie he's been in. Even Mission Impossible or Minority Report. The movie starts off with Jamie Foxx as Max -- a hard-working man who takes his job as an L.A. cab driver very seriously, to perfection actually. And incredibly performed by Jamie Foxx as well. Max knows all the best routes in L.A., too. His first passenger of the night is Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith). They decide to bet on whose desired routes will get them to her destination quicker. If Annie is right, her ride is free.
On the way, they engage in a friendly chat and get to know each other a bit. We get to know Max. We learn that Max dreams big, he dreams of starting a limo company some day. Annie is a successful lawyer in the middle of a big case currently, by the way. She then gets out of the cab after arriving to her destination. Max won the wager apparently. She decides to give her business card to Max after Max sweetly gave her a picture of significance. It's a picture of Maldives Islands; Max's escape from a stressful L.A. day... but Annie seems to need it more than him and so he gives her his cherished photo.
Shortly after that, Max then picks up his next fare -- Vincent (Tom Cruise). Later on, he offers Max six hundred dollars to take him to five locations because he has "real estate" business to take care of while he's in town. In reality, Vincent is a hit man whose job for the night is to kill five witnesses. Vincent's first kill goes slightly wrong... and soon after that, Max's "perfect" routine cab night turns into pandemonium as he's forced to be Vincent’s getaway driver. By the second act, Vincent and Max gain some understanding of each other as the chaotic night rolls on.
Collateral has meaningful dialogue and AMAZING NIGHT SHOTS to balance the realistic action as Max and Vincent discuss the importance of life, the meaning of taking a life, and things like that. We also learn that Max has been driving a cab for 12 years, even though he initially tells Vincent that it is “temporary.” By the third act, Vincent informs Max of his logic on life itself and it's that we're all just specs in the universe, lost in space -- and so who notices if a person dies. "Who notices?"
This movie is absolutely brilliant and has very complex characters. A must-see. Sadly, I feel this film is quite underrated... hopefully, this hub can inspire people who haven’t seen it to watch it! And I also love the fact it was shot in HD (I am an HD filmmaker). The performance in low-light was amazing. When I first saw this, I never saw such clarity for night shots. I have too many favorite scenes in Collateral... there's the night club scene, which is still my favorite shoot-out sequence EVER, but I'll point out one that's pretty epic:
The Coyote Scene. In a moment of silence, Max stops the cab and lets two coyotes cross the road. Vincent and Max gaze at the creatures in the night for a long beat... and then drive off. "Shadow of the Sun" by Audioslave starts up while this is happening... OH -- IT IS BEAUTIFUL. I can only interpret what it means, as it's vague, but I would guess it means that life is more than what it means to actual people -- but what about other living things? Are their lives just as significant or insiginificant as ours?
Collateral is more than just a thriller, but it questions the point of life itself. And what's interesting most about the movie is Vincent -- a disconnected human being in a disconnected town. The last line of the movie will leave you pondering throughout the day.
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