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Collateral
2004 - R - 120 Mins.
Director: Michael Mann
Producer: Walter Parkes, Michael Mann
Written By: Frank Darabont, Stuart Beattie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jaime Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.collateral-themovie.com/
   

The hair moreso than the gun says it all: I'm not to be messed with.
With the sleek and kinetic thriller ‘Collateral’, director Michael Mann has fashioned his best film since ‘The Insider’ and his most remarkable action film since ‘Heat.’ The film is paced like a constantly erupting firecracker as the production wastes little time getting to the point and doesn’t let up until a whiz bang conclusion that is the aftermath of many hyper-edited action sequences. Sure to be a box office hit, a rarity for a Michael Mann film, ‘Collateral’ is hands down the best film of the summer.

Max (Jaime Foxx) is a veritable wisp of a man; drifting along in a life replete with missed opportunities and chances not taken, resigned to being a Los Angeles cabbie for the remainder of his life. His prior career as a comedy writer didn’t last long before his lack of confidence and, apparently, talent drove him to drive; literally. One night, his life of wasted chances comes to a head when the calm, collected, and most of all, cool Vincent (Tom Cruise) enters his cab.

At first things seem rather mundane as Max drops Vincent off and is told to wait. It is not long though before Max gets the feeling that Vincent’s intentions are far from pure. Vincent too gets the feeling that his new chauffer knows something. That’s when the man pulls a gun on Max and threatens to kill him unless he drives him around to hits, because he, Vincent, is a hitman.

Meanwhile, Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case. It is not long before he realizes what has happened and who might be doing the killing. Pretty soon it is a race to stop Vincent from killing any more people.

What one first notices about ‘Collateral’ is its look. A gritty, washed out color palette is the rule of the day as Mann directs with vivacity; framing LA as one big hell hole of a town. Not very flattering, I know, but visually striking nonetheless. The film utilizes a digital video look; handheld shots are common but unlike Paul Greengrass’ ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ Mann makes it rather simple for the viewer to always know what is occurring. With Mann one gets the sense that every angle, every frame, is pre-planned right down to the most insignificant detail. It must also be known that Mann occasionally alters the viewers’ perceptions by going to the more traditional look of films which one has grown accustomed. This is another strategy that further brings the film into focus; the parallel world that Michael Mann has created out of a well-known city.

The film’s grittiness extends to the actors as well. As Vincent, Tom Cruise is an ice cold shell of a villain; a man on a mission not to be stopped. As an actor, Cruise is at the top of the food chain, and his Vincent is a perfect example as to why he is the most reliable box office draw in Hollywood. At his polar opposite, Jaime Foxx too gives a grand performance. As Max attempts to dig deep inside himself for the courage he never knew he had, Foxx is pitch-perfect. For much of its running time ‘Collateral’ is a two man show and the two men put on quite a showcase.

In fact, the word “Showcase” could be applied to the film as a whole. Not only is ‘Collateral’ an acting showcase, it is also a showcase for the directorial prowess of Michael Mann.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

 
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