Collateral (2004) – Review

4 Stars

Michael Mann proves once again that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other great American directors. Collateral is an excellent thriller ripe with taut sequences and top notch performances. Serving as another gem in the Mann film cannon, ranking up there with his classics Heat and Miami Vice. Working from a lean and thoughtful script by scribe Stuart Beattie, and benefiting from the outstanding look captured on digital video by cinematographer Dion Beebe; Mann has delivered another tale of men on opposing spectrums of life thrown together under circumstance and cosmic chaos.

The eternally smiling Tom Cruise effectively plays a villain here, and Jaime Foxx is the cabby hired to escort him to five locations throughout the night. This film proves the point that often the most interesting character in a story is the bad guy. Cruise plays the tough, cold-blooded Vincent in a performance that should have been recognized by Oscar voters. One of the many pleasures to be had during Collateral is watching Foxx hold his own against Cruise in scenes that call for real investment on the part of both actors. The supporting players are fascinating in their own right, especially Jada Pinkett Smith’s flirty lawyer and Javier Bardem as the seethingly angry Cartel head.

Mann specializes in shooting Los Angeles at night and nobody captures the texture of the city better. His nocturnal neighborhoods are almost characters, the environment feels alive and lived-in. In turn granting Collateral a feeling of urgency and association, this is happening right now on streets you’ve driven. While the film does slightly falter in the final minutes leading to a routine shoot-out, the previous two hours are so compelling that I’m willing to forgive the filmmakers for taking the easy road to its conclusion.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith

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