August 08, 2004


A summertime implausible action film with wit, brains, style, and character.
By Fred H. Arm
In this half crime thriller and half surprisingly comical buddy pix, Michael Mann's "Collateral" smashes full-bore through LA in one night of murder and mayhem. Tom Cruise stars as Vincent, a cold-blooded hitman who picks Jamie Foxx ‘s cab as his vehicle for the night to slaughter five would-be witnesses scheduled to testify in an upcoming Drug King Pin’s trial. The highly talented Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans) brings to the screen one tight-fisted, yet highly implausible crime thriller that delivers generous doses of high-end action amidst compelling character moments. Foxx plays an aimless, yet intelligent and kind-hearted, young cab driver named Max. Max becomes increasingly anxious as the bodies begin piling up, while the police are just beginning to pick up the crime’s scent.

Plot wise, the story is highly unlikely and implausible, yet Mann and screenwriter Stuart Beattie manage to elevate the material beyond simplistic gimmickry. Vincent promises Max 700 dollars to be his wheelman while he dispatches his victims one-by-one. It does not take a genius to figure out that Max is most likely doomed once Vincent's dirty little mission is accomplished. This is the backbone of the tension and terror that runs throughout the film. Although it has a formulaic finale involving a lot of running through deserted office buildings and streets, a subway train, and some really bad shooting of a supposed expert hitman.

Mechanically, the film seems to have been shot mostly on digital video, yet maintaining a starkly striking style. Collateral is fascinating to watch, notwithstanding the killings and far-fetched gunplay. Cruise seems to be really relishing his Bad Guy role that you cannot seem to resist watching his every move. He is quietly evil, yet he is infinitely fascinating and peculiarly likable. Collateral is not exactly profound or even a novel crime story. However, it is remarkably satisfying and thrilling.
It is great to see an action fantasy so mature and refined during this summer’s goofy spectacles and mindless dramas. This is a fun and good-looking movie, with a strangely haunting and original concept. It has the cast to pull it off and a talented director doing his part to carry the theme to an electrifying new level.

Posted by fredarm at August 8, 2004 04:04 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?